Drained by decades of overuse and climate-fueled drought, Lakes Mead and Powell, the massive lakes held back by the Hoover and Glen Canyon Dams, respectively, will likely never be refilled, experts warn. “The only reason they filled the first time is because there wasn’t demand for the water,” Bill Hasencamp, manager of Colorado River resources for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, told the LA Times.

The past 23 years of climate-fueled megadrought across the West “are the best lessons we have right now, and they should scare the pants off of people,” Colorado State water and climate scientist Brad Udall said. To replenish the reservoirs, “you would need wet year after wet year, after wet year after wet year, after wet year. Even then, because the demand is so high, it still wouldn’t fill,” Hasencamp said.

“We might even get a wet decade,” Udall added. “But, boy, the long-term warming and drying trend seems super clear to me…  And a bet on anything other than that seems like water management malpractice, that we have got to plan for something that looks like a worst-case future.” (LA Times $; Climate Signals background: Western megadrought