As the severe drought sweeping the American West enters its third year, water levels in Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the United States that provides water for tens of millions of people, have fallen to their lowest levels since the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s.
Over the past month, the water level in Lake Mead has continued to drop, leaving nearly 30% of capacity and exposing the top of the old intake valve. At its maximum capacity, the lake sits 1,299 feet above sea level. On Wednesday, it measured 244 feet less than that, at 1,055 feet above sea level.
On the same day, as the water level in the lake fell, the Southern Nevada Water Authority activated a new pumping station at the lower lake level that was completed in April so that the state will continue to supply residents with water.
Colby Pellegrino, deputy general manager of resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, told Las Vegas magazine review This week in regards to the persistent drought.
This week, Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District issued restrictions to nearly 6 million customers set to begin June 1 due to water shortages in Lake Mead and the Colorado River. Resident restrictions prohibit watering lawns and plants more than one day per week.
Like Reported by Yahoo NewsThe federal government announced the Colorado River’s first water shortage in mid-August, reducing the amount of water Arizona was able to draw from it. Since then, the situation has worsened, as water levels in Lake Powell, another major reservoir on the Colorado River, have dwindled.
Last week, seven western states that depend on the Colorado River for water agreed to a recommendation from the Department of the Interior requiring them to implement conservation measures like those put in place in Southern California. While states like Washington have seen enough rain this winter to alleviate drought conditions, parts of states like Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado are still experiencing severe droughts.
Parker Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Tell National Geographic.
Williams is the author of a new study published in Nature Climate Change that shows that warmer temperatures associated with increased greenhouse gas emissions have made the western drought 40% more severe, and the current drought is likely to continue into 2030.
With drought expected to continue to worsen as temperatures rise, water levels in Lake Mead are expected to drop further. risk according to Southern Nevada Water Authorityis that if the lake’s elevation drops below 895 feet, “the Hoover Dam can no longer release water downstream into California, Arizona, and Mexico.”