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News & Press: Alumni news

Group Project Informs Articles on Real-World Drought Impacts

Wednesday, July 8, 2015  
Posted by: Monica Illes on behalf of James Badham

Lake Mead "Bathtub Ring" Group Project Receives Attention
Two articles cite study of impacts resulting if low water levels trigger delivery reductions

The Bren School's 2015 Lake Mead "Bathtub Ring" Master's Group Project was covered in two articles published a week apart in the influential High Country News. Both articles addressed the historic low water levels in the nation's largest reservoir, which captures water from the Colorado River near Las Vegas, which is used by millions of people in Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Drought-reduced flows in the Colorado River have left Lake Mead with an outsized "bathtub ring" that makes western water users nervous.

The June 17 article ran under the headline "Lake Mead watch: six inches from the level that triggers cutbacks." It covered the record May rains in the West, which marginally improved the situation resulting from several years of recor drought in the West, and laid out the cuts that would go into effect if the water level were to fall another six inches.

The second article, published on June 24, was titled "Lake Mead watch: As levels fall, hydropower dips" and began by saying, "As water levels in Lake Mead continue to drop, the future of 'the greatest dam in the world' is more precarious than it ever has been...."

Both articles cited research done by new Bren School graduates Ning Jiang, Season Martin, Julia Morton, and Skyler Murphy(all MESM 2015) for their Master's Group Project titled "The Bathtub Ring: Implications of Low Water Levels in Lake Mead on Water Supply, Hydropower, Recreation, and the Environment."In their work, the group analyzed the physcial and economic impacts to water deliveries, hydropower generation, recreation, and downstream ecosystems as Lake Mead water levesl decline.

The two articles in two weeks demonstrate the continuing relevance, importance, and real-world application of Bren School Master's Projects, as students develop innovative approaches to understanding and solving complex environmental problems.

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