Lake Mead “Bathtub Ring” Group Project Receives Attention


Ning Jiang, Skyler Murphy, Season Martin, and Julia Morton (all MESM 2015)

Adapted from The Bren School’s recent coverage.

The Bren School’s 2015 Lake Mead “Bathtub Ring” Master’s Group Project was covered in three articles published a week apart in the influential High Country News.  All 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.

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 record 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….”

The most recent article from July 1, “Lake Mead watch: As the Colorado dries up, will tourism?”, explores the potential economic consequences that the dropping lake level could have on regional recreation. “The Bathtub Ring” is cited as the key economic analysis and its findings are bolstered by the perspectives of local boating businesses and the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.

Each article cites 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 physical and economic impacts to water deliveries, hydropower generation, recreation, and downstream ecosystems as Lake Mead water levels decline.

The three articles published within 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.bathtub

Lake Mead photo courtesy: M P R | Flickr Creative Commons

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