Two surviving veterans from the Pisco Wars in South America will be guest bartenders at Provisions in downtown Ridgway tomorrow night. Tyler and rŌbert will be applying their copious knowledge and years of experience mixing their notorious and unmatched Pisco sours. Don’t be late and don’t be shy, you may never have another chance.
A camper parked along Lake Powell in Big Water, Utah. Scientists fear the lake’s water level could reach a low that would make power generation at Glen Canyon Dam halt. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)
PAGE, Ariz. — The first sign of serious trouble for the drought-strickenAmerican Southwest could be a whirlpool.
It could happen if the surface of Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir along the Colorado River that’s already a quarter of its former size, drops another 38 feet down the concrete face of the 710-footGlen Canyon Dam here. At that point, the surface would be approaching the tops of eightunderwater openings that allow river water to pass through the hydroelectric dam.
The normally placid Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir,could suddenly transform into something resembling a funnel, with water circling the openings,the dam’s operators say.
If that happens,the massive turbines that generate electricity for 4.5 million people would have to shut down — after nearly 60 years of use —or risk destruction from air bubbles. The only outlet for Colorado River water from the damwould then be a set of smaller, deeper and rarely used bypass tubes with a far more limited ability to pass water downstream to the Grand Canyon and the cities and farms in Arizona, Nevada and California.
Such an outcome — known as a “minimum power pool” — was once unfathomable here. Now, the federal government projects that day could come as soon as July.
Worse, officials warn, is the possibility of an even more catastrophic event. That is if the water level falls all the way to the lowest holes, so only small amounts could pass through the dam. Such a scenario — called “dead pool” — would transform Glen Canyon Dam from something that regulates an artery of national importance into a hulking concrete plug corking the Colorado River.
Anxiety about such outcomes has worsened this year as a long-running drought has intensified in the Southwest. Reservoirs and groundwater supplies across the region have fallen dramatically, and states and cities have faced restrictions on water use amid dwindling supplies. The Colorado River, which serves roughly 1 in 10 Americans, is the region’s most important waterway.
The 1,450-mile river starts in the Colorado Rockies and ends in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. There are more than a dozen dams along the river, creating major reservoirs such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
On the way to such dire outcomes at Lake Powell — which federal officials have begun both planning for and working aggressively to avoid — scientists and dam operators say water temperatures in the Grand Canyon would hit a roller coaster, going frigid overnight and then heating up again, throwing the iconic ecosystem into turmoil. Lake Powell’s surface has already fallen 170 feet.
Lake Powell drought threatens power loss for millions
Lucrative industries that attract visitors from around the world — the rainbow trout fishery above Lees Ferry, rafting trips through the Grand Canyon — would be threatened. And eventually the only water escaping to the Colorado River basin’s southern states and Mexico could be what flows into Lake Powell from the north and sloshes over the lip of the dam’s lowest holes.
“A complete doomsday scenario,” said Bob Martin, deputy power manager at Glen Canyon Dam, as he peered down at the shimmering blue of Lake Powell from the rim of the dam.
It’s been dubbed The Road to Hell, but it’s also called the most beautiful drive in Colorado. The Million Dollar Highway is magnificent, death-defying, and it should have been impossible to build. It nearly was. And at a terrible human cost to the Ute people as well as to the men who blasted, dug and drilled a path through the steepest, hardest, roughest of mountain passes.
A male bluethroat calls from a cattail.Getty Images
This story was originally published by theGuardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Deskcollaboration.
One swallow may not make a summer but seeing or hearing birds does improve mental wellbeing, researchers have found.
The study, led by academics from King’s College London, also found that everyday encounters with birds boosted the mood of people with depression, as well as the wider population.
The researchers said the findings suggested that visits to places with a wealth of birdlife, such as parks and canals, could be prescribed by doctors to treat mental health conditions. They added that their findings also highlighted the need to better protect the environment and improve biodiversity in urban, suburban and rural areas in order to preserve bird habitats.
The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, tracked 1,292 participants’ everyday encounters with birds last year via a smartphone app called Urban Mind.
Over the course of two weeks, the participants, from the UK, Europe, the US, China and Australia, were prompted at random intervals to record how they were feeling, including whether they were happy or stressed, whether they could see trees, and whether they could see or hear birds.
The researchers found that participants’ average mental wellbeing scores increased when they saw or heard birds, including among those who disclosed they had been diagnosed with depression. This beneficial effect also lasted beyond the moment of encountering birds, with higher levels of mental wellbeing noted by participants who did not see or hear birds the next time they recorded their mood.“Birdsong would have once been the natural soundtrack to all human lives…embedded somewhere deep within our psyches.”
However, this positive effect did not persist if the participants did not encounter birds during the subsequent assessment of their mood, which the researchers said indicated “a possible causal link effect of birdlife on mental wellbeing.”