Work on one of Spain’s largest hydropower plants has been put on hold due to drought-like conditions, heralding the future of the rapidly receding Lake Mead.
Energy company Endesa SA closed its Mequinenza plant in Zaragoza, Spain after water levels dropped below 23 percent of capacity, Bloomberg said. This is below the minimum required to produce electricity. The plant was first opened in 1966 and has never closed until now.
Spain has suffered from one of the worst droughts in more than a decade, and around 32 percent of the country is affected by rising temperatures and a lack of rainfall.
The situation reflects similar worldwide, including the ongoing drought in the southwestern United States. Experts are concerned about the future of Lake Mead, the vast artificial reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam that stretches across Nevada and Arizona.
Lake Mead turbines are working to provide electricity to the hundreds of thousands of people living in the area, but the water level is rapidly approaching the dead pool level when the dam turbines are no longer able to generate power. As the largest artificial body of water in North America, it is also an integral water source.
Andrea Gerlak, professor at the School of Geography, Development & Environment at the University of Arizona, said Newsweek“We’re dangerously close to reaching the 950 feet elevation above Lake Mead needed to rotate turbines and generate electricity. If the lake’s water level continues to decline, it will certainly have negative repercussions on electricity consumers in neighboring states and communities. “
Lake Mead’s water level is 1,045 feet, which is just about 27 percent of its normal capacity.
Lake Mead could reach 992 feet by the end of July 2024, according to the two-year probabilistic forecast of the Colorado River system from the Bureau of Reclamation, the US water resources management office. the lake can reach in 24 months. Experts have already warned that if the lake reaches Deadpool it could be a disaster.
“But more importantly – if and when the Hoover Dam stops producing electricity – it will challenge our assumptions about how we manage water and energy in the southwestern United States,” said Gerlak, who is also director of the University’s Udall Study Center. in public policy.
“The time will finally come to have these tough discussions about what it means to share resources together and manage them in a sustainable and equitable manner in the face of a changing climate.”
Lake Mead is not the only body of water in the United States that is drying up due to severe drought. The Mississippi River areas have had the driest conditions in decades, while the water level in Utah’s Great Salt Lake is the lowest it has ever been.
Newsweek contacted Endesa SA for comment.
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