Record low water levels in US reduce hydro power output

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Washington– For the first time since 1967, water levels in the Colorado River system are at a record low and the megadrought in the US southwest have reduced hydropower output significantly, according to experts.

Low water levels at reservoirs across the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah mean a reduction in hydroelectric production, which dropped 20 per cent for water year 2022, Xinhua news agency reported citing the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) as saying.

Although hydropower production is down about 30 per cent overall since 2000, it has plummeted a full 20 per cent since 2021 for the 2022 year ending September 30, a BOR official recently said.

“The outlook is likely for a pretty low generation years,” Nick Williams, BOR upper Colorado River Basin power manager, told The Colorado Sun on Tuesday.

According to the report, Lake Powell’s Glen Canyon Dam, which produces most of the Colorado River systems hydropower, is down about 78 per cent.

Compared to a pre-drought average from 1988 to 1999, the most recent water year hydroelectric generation is down about 43 per cent, Williams said.

“The beginning of the 21st-century marked what scientists now believe is the driest 22-year stretch in the southwest in the past 1,200 years,” said the report.

Recent drops in hydroelectric power production from the southwest’s most important river, the Colorado, have officials “rethinking how much power generation can reasonably be relied upon from that system” on a long-term basis.

“We are starting to look really hard at the assumptions that go into what we do base our numbers under storage typical models and question ability of those,” Williams said.

“I think the prudent thing to do is to plan for something that’s likely lower long-term and then it’s easier to react more water and power than it is to the less,” he added.(IANS)

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