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Articles by Jake Bittle

Jake Bittle is a contributing writer at Grist and freelance reporter who lives in Brooklyn, New York. His book about climate migration is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.

Featured Article

A view of the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell in Arizona in March 2022.

Earlier this month, as water levels in the Lake Powell reservoir fell to record lows amid the ongoing Western drought, the federal government asked seven states that rely on the Colorado River to work out an emergency conservation deal. The states had been scheduled to receive river water that was stored in the lake, but releasing the water would have drained the reservoir further, threatening its ability to generate hydroelectric power for millions of people and raising utility bills for towns and tribes across the West. The feds also revealed that declining reservoir levels would endanger the tubes that carry water past the dam’s hydropower turbine, potentially depriving multiple communities of drinking water and compromising “public health and safety.”

Late last week, the states agreed to forfeit their water from Lake Powell in order to ensure that the reservoir can still produce power. The deal puts a finger in the metaphorical dike, postponing an inevitable reckoning with the years-long drought that has parched the Colorado River — and a wrenching tradeoff between power access and water access for millions. It does so, in part, through an unusual act of hydrologi... Read more

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