$700M Federal Boost Aims to Revive Parched Lake Mead

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On a bright Thursday, a new ray of hope peeked over the parched shores of Lake Mead. The Department of the Interior announced an allocation of an initial $700 million in federal funds aimed to help swell the receding waters of the lake. Embarking on this ambitious plan, the department hopes that this investment could add over 700,000 acre-feet of water back into Lake Mead’s stark expanses.

The country’s largest human-made reservoir, Lake Mead has been gasping for water for the past 23 years, its life source dwindling under the unrelenting scourge of an historic drought. Despite some recent leaps towards recovery, the water level currently sits at a height of 1,066 feet above sea level, substantially shy of its full capacity by a daunting 163 feet or 12.6%. News of these water levels can’t help but echo as a grave warning through the streets of the Las Vegas Strip, Southern Nevada, and other areas, given that Lake Mead is the source of 90% of their water.

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Beyond the silver city’s limits, Lake Mead and the greater Lower Colorado River Basin quench the thirst of more than 40 million souls, fueling hydropower in seven US states. In essence, the health of these waters forms the lifeline for countless communities in America’s western expanses.

Quoted in the press release, Secretary Deb Haaland breathed a dedication into the winds, “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to making western communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.” She continued, “Building on our significant efforts to protect the Colorado River System, we are continuing to make smart investments through the President’s Investing in America agenda to strengthen the stability and sustainability of the Colorado River System.”

Delving into the specifics, the $700 million investment is set to flow into water distribution structures, advanced metering infrastructure, farm efficiency improvements, canal lining, turf removal, and groundwater banking. Also on the cards are water recycling and purification efforts, echoing a green ethos. Moreover, a new term surfaces in the government’s lexicon of conservation methods: desalinization.

Looming at a distance of 272 miles from Lake Mead is the Pacific Ocean, a tantalizingly enormous body of water held at bay by the colossal logistical headache of constructing a feasible pipeline. The government, however, might turn its sights on an alternative solution: investing in a desalination plant in Mexico, trading the fruits of that initiative for a portion of Mexico’s Colorado River water rights.

This announcement marks the latest wave of funding by the Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program. The program was established through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a piece of legislation that serves as a beacon of hope in the dire fight against climate change and the ongoing drought crisis. June 6th’s announcement, therefore, stands not only as a testament to the administration’s commitment but also a tangible lifeline thrown to the parched lands and their people.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.