“Complete Doomsday Scenario” for Southwest

What’s happening in Arizona is driving home how climate change will require us to rethink every assumption of the world we currently live in.

One of the nation’s biggest electricity generators is slowing down because of ongoing droughts, pushing the region to the precipice of a “complete doomsday scenario,” according to local power operators.

Glen Canyon Dam generates hydropower from Lake Powell, which, in turn, is fed by the Colorado River. At its fullest, the dam’s turbines can produce 1,300 megawatts of power for the region. 

However, climate change-related drought and increasing water demand substantially depleting Lake Powell. It is now only one-fourth full compared to twenty years ago. And if they dip another 38 feet, it will cause a “whirlpool” effect that will completely shut down the turbines, cutting 4.5 million people from power. 

And if they drop even further…the dam would create a “dead pool,” entirely disrupting the flow of the Colorado River.

The Southwest’s power, economies, and ecosystems are all at risk. Drinking water could be lost, and energy costs would soar. Warming water temperatures will introduce new predators to compete against threatened species. There will be no more trout fishing and white water rafting through the Grand Canyon. These scenarios were once “unthinkable,” but now could become a reality as soon as July 2023.

The impact of climate change on Lake Powell and the Southwest is only one example of the growing consequences of not acting on this existential threat. Climate change is more than just rising sea levels and melting ice caps. It will leave no corner of our economy untouched.

SEEC members of Congress recognize the threat and are working on long-term solutions to create a climate-resilient future. Will you let our members know you’re standing with them?