Story at a glance:

  • Lake Mead, fed by the Colorado River, is experiencing declining water levels.
  • The water has been this low only a handful of times since the Hoover Dam was constructed in the 1930s, but it was able to recover.
  • There are little signs of it recovering until at least the end of 2022.

Between Las Vegas and Arizona, Lake Mead, the body of water that is fed by the Colorado River, dropped below 1,075 feet on Tuesday. The low water marks are signaling what could be the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, CNN reports.

The lake’s levels show a continuing decline, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), and any hope of recovery won’t happen until at least the end of 2022.


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According to CNN, if the water level next year is projected to be below 1,075 feet, it would mean that, for the first time, the Colorado River is experiencing a water shortage. If that were the case, water deliveries for nearby communities would be cut significantly — and it would be felt across states. 

More than 50 percent of Arizonians will be affected by the water shortage, reports KNXV, a local ABC affiliate that is licensed to Phoenix. 

Like states along the west coast, Arizona is experiencing an extremely dry season. Last month, 99 percent of the state of Arizona was in a drought, according to KNXV, and more than half was in an exceptional drought. 

Lake Mead has hit this low mark a few times since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s, but it has been able to recover, according to CNN. But the lake continues to show declining water levels, falling more than 139 feet since 2000. 


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Published on May 28, 2021