Much of the western United States is under the grips of an unrelenting megadrought. And to make a bad situation worse, the water level at Lake Mead, which supplies water to over 25 million people, has hit its lowest level since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s following the construction of the iconic Hoover Dam.
Lake Mead is the nation’s largest reservoir by volume. It quenches the thirst of cities, farms, and tribal lands across Arizona, Nevada, California, and parts of Mexico.
Right now, Lake Mead is at roughly 36% of its capacity. And this drastic drop in the water level has cut Hoover Dam’s hydropower output also by nearly 25%.
On Thursday, Lake Mead’s water level hit an elevation of 1,071.53 feet – a record low. In the weeks leading up to July 4, that number is expected to drop even further, up to 1068.5 feet above sea level. Every foot of lake level decline translates into 6MW of lost capacity.
What’s more troubling is that the lake’s rapid decline has been outpacing projections for months now.
For example, in late April, authorities at Lake Mead had estimated that Boulder Harbor should remain accessible for boat launches until early July. But earlier today, Boulder Harbor was declared inaccessible when the water level dropped so low that it started preventing vessels from exiting the narrow passage from the harbor and into the lake.
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Drone video shows shrinking Lake Mead
The video you are about to see has been captured by drone pilot Eric Kirchubel in late May. He launched his Mavic Air 2 from Callville Bay Marina, blazed through the Narrows, and beached at Crescent Cove on admittedly great weather days to get this video:
It’s worth noting that, this year, the water-starved Colorado River Basin is projected to experience its second-driest year in more than a century of record-keeping. The driest year on record was 2002.
Scientists believe the megadrought has been worsened by climate, more severe wildfires, less snow, and more intense dry seasons.
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