Forwarded news articles of Atlanta’s impeding water shortage filled my email inbox yesterday. I can see why. The thought of a huge city the size of Atlanta running out of water sounds apocalyptic in our age of progress. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had the best attention grabbing article introduction:
“Lake Sidney Lanier, metro Atlanta’s main source of water, has about three months of storage left, according to state and federal officials.
That’s three months before there’s not enough water for more than 3 million metro Atlantans to take showers, flush their toilets and cook. Three months before there’s not enough water in parts of the Chattahoochee River for power plants to make the steam necessary to generate electricity. Three months before part of the river runs dry.”
These trumpets of impending revelation in the article may be a bit much. The official from the City of Atlanta was quoted from other sources as saying there is only enough water storage from Lake Lanier left now to supply the metro region for 121 days. More importantly, he assumed no more rain and no groundwater inflow for his 121 days of storage calculation. This is very conservative. Just as a side note, I would also consider 121 days to be more like 4 months. But, hey that is just me.
Lake Lanier is a small lake for the size of the city it supports. Lake Lanier only has an average depth of 60 feet, covers 38,000 acres and has a storage of 2.5 million acre-feet of water. For comparison purposes, Lake Mead near Las Vegas has a capacity of 28.5 million acre-feet of water.
Regardless of the hype, this drought is reaching historic proportions. Here is latest drought monitor released today. It does not look good anytime soon.