Hoover Dam, a hydroelectric plant near Las Vegas, is in danger of closing soon. Due to years of drought in the western United States, reservoir levels have decreased significantly. The plant is expected to provide electricity to hundreds of thousands of American households.
The Hoover Dam dams the Colorado River, creating Lake Mead, America’s major reservoir. The lake has already lost 28 percent of its capacity due to drought over the past 23 years, meaning there is less pressure to push water through the turbines. So says Patti Aaron of the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that manages the dam.
At its peak, the lake rose to a height of 365 meters above sea level. Today the water level is 320 meters. About 30 centimeters fall each week. When the level goes below 289 meters, water stops flowing through the turbines.
The Colorado River rises in the Rocky Mountains and flows through several US states. Due to climate change, there will be less snowfall or faster melting during the winter months, and the resulting effects. The Hoover Dam was commissioned in 1931 and was a symbol of the ambitions and ingenuity of American engineers at the time.