Story at a glance

  • Reuters reports Lake Mead hit a record-low around 11 p.m. local time Wednesday, as the surface of the reservoir fell to 1,071.56 feet above sea level.
  • The previous lowest level had been 1,071.61 feet on July 1, 2016.
  • Most of the western half of the U.S. is experiencing drought, with large parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico in extreme and exceptional drought categories.

As the western U.S. is experiencing an intensifying drought, the reservoir created by the Hoover Dam has hit a historically low level. 

Lake Mead was formed in the 1930s by the damming of the Colorado River at the Nevada-Arizona border and is the nation’s largest reservoir by volume. 


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The reservoir plays a key role in providing water to 25 million people in the West, including major cities such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas. 

Reuters reports Lake Mead hit a record-low around 11 p.m. local time Wednesday, as the surface of the reservoir fell to 1,071.56 feet above sea level. The previous lowest level had been 1,071.61 feet on July 1, 2016. 

The outlet reports that Lake Mead’s water level has plunged 140 feet since the year 2000.

The low water levels could prompt the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to declare Lake Mead’s most extreme shortage condition for the first time in history, which would dramatically restrict water supply for several states. A shortage declaration would be made if water projections this summer show the lake level below 1,075 at the beginning of 2022, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal

“We expect it to keep declining until November,” U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patti Aaron told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Most of the western half of the U.S. is experiencing drought, with large parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico in extreme and exceptional drought categories, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor


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Published on Jun 10, 2021