Drought Spreads to 93 Percent of West — That’s Never Happened

Drought Spreads to 93 Percent of West—That’s Never Happened

Photo: In an aerial view, the San Gabriel River and the exposed lakebed of the San Gabriel Reservoir are seen on June 29, 2021 in the San Gabriel Mountains near Azusa, California. Credit: Mario Tama Getty Images

The western United States is experiencing its worst drought this century, threatening to kill crops, spark wildfires and harm public health as hot and dry conditions are expected to continue this month.

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The burning question: How do wildfires impact watersheds?

The burning question: How do wildfires impact watersheds?

Photo: Site of the Brian Head wildfire in Utah still showing clear impacts more than a year after the fire Image Credit: arbyreed (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Article: Maina, F. Z., & Siirila‐Woodburn, E. R. (2020). Watersheds dynamics following wildfires: Nonlinear feedbacks and implications on hydrologic responses. Hydrological Processes , 34 (1), 33-50. https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.13568

For people in the western United States, images of devastating wildfires have become a terrifyingly familiar … [more…]

What drought? These states are gearing up to draw more water from the Colorado.

photo: the Colorado River

Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Wyoming wants to modify the Fontenelle Dam so it can use an extra 80,000 acre-feet of water from a tributary of the once-mighty Colorado River. At its headwaters, Denver Water hopes to expand a reservoir’s capacity by 77,000 acre-feet of water. And several hundred miles south, Utah is trying to build a pipeline that can funnel another 86,000 acre-feet out of the river.

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Plan for Colorado River draws on Blue Mesa, Flaming Gorge reservoirs

photo: low water level in reservoir. Plan to slow creeping Colorado River crisis could drain more water from Blue Mesa, Flaming Gorge reservoirs

Historic proposal to create a conservation bank of water in Lake Powell fed by reservoirs in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico would protect the withering Powell and requires approval of eight states and the federal government

Nearly two decades into a pervasive drought that has more to do with a warming climate than precipitation, the seven states that rely on the Colorado River are nearing completion of a seven-year … [more…]

Utah copes with drying streams, dying animals as drought tightens its grip

photo: Sam Plumb in Emigration Canyon. Utah copes with drying streams, dying animals as drought tightens its grip — with no relief in sight

(Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune) Sam Plumb inspects the dry creek bed on his family’s property in Emigration Canyon.

…with no relief in sight

After one of the hottest and driest summers on record, Utah’s water supplies are so low that agricultural water deliveries have been cut short, stream gauges need to be repositioned to measure paltry flows, young deer and elk are dying and ranchers are liquidating their

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