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Fears rise as Lake Mead gets lower

Lake Mead with Boulder City in foreground.
Lake Mead with Boulder City in foreground.

With the longest dry spell in 100 years now entering its 14th year, residents in Nevada are becoming increasing alarmed about the security of their water supply as Lake Mead continues to lower. This is especially true in Las Vegas.

In fact, The lake which is now at 1,108 feet, “is as low as it’s ever been when it started filling,” stated Mark Clark, Bullhead City council member and manager of the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District.Clark “It’s almost a certainty that a shortage will be declared in 2016 at this point.”

He also told attendees at the annual Colorado River Users Association meeting that “There is a good possibility the amount of water released from Lake Powell into Lake Mead will be reduced this year from 8.23 million acre feet to 7.48 million acre feet. With that reduction, it’s anticipated that Lake Mead will drop down by about 20 feet this year.”

Formed by the Hoover Dam during the late1930’s Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States. Located on the Colorado River is 112 miles long with from the Strip southeast of Las Vegas, through Arizona.

While Mead is now only 48% full, Lake Powell is only 41% of its capacity. Clark also explained that “Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu are ‘balancing lakes’ so Lake Mohave’s usually almost full. They run close to 95% percent and Lake Havasu usually runs about 90% percent full, because they’re ‘pass-throughs’ so whatever’s released out of Mead goes into Mohave, then it’s released to travel down river.

The 3-day conference, held in Las Vegas, was attended by representatives from the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, as well as 9 other Native American groups and 7 Colorado Basin states, who all depend on the water source.

In addition, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell spoke to attendees about how the “Colorado River is one of the most regulated rivers in the world,” and how the affected states are banding together to try and develop a plan to protect the problem, including “partnering with the federal Bureau of Reclamation and the United States Geological Survey to take an inventory of all the wells in the area, to ensure that all their water accounted for.”

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