May 10, 2022

Lake Mead Water Levels Reach New Low

As of May 9, Lake Mead's water levels are at only 1,052.88 feet above sea level.

Lake-Mead-water levels
Image Credit: Photo 16158999 © Daniel Ng |

Lake Mead’s water levels have fallen to a new low.

According to Accuweather, as of May 9, Lake Mead's water levels are at only 1,052.88 feet above sea level. A level of 1,225 feet was reached during the summer of 1983 during an El Niño phase. This event flooded many parts of the U.S. and pushed one dam along the Colorado River to new levels, reported AccuWeather.

The federal government declared the first water shortage at Lake Mead on Aug. 16, 2021. 

Lake Mead hit 1,060 feet above sea level on Apr. 4, according to Bronson Mack, public outreach officer for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, reported CNN. According to USA Today, these levels are the lowest since 1937, a year after Hoover Dam became operational and created the reservoir.

According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, “drought and climate change have caused Lake Mead to drop nearly 150 feet.” Lake Mead is the source of nearly 90% of Southern Nevada's water. 

The Southern Nevada Water Authority and other western authorities have stepped up efforts to encourage water conservation efforts to sustain water supplies. Water consumption cuts have been put into place due to the ongoing drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reported that drought conditions have worsened in the Southwest, with extreme and exceptional drought designations being expanded across New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

The Bureau of Reclamation reported that Lake Mead had dropped to 35% capacity in August 2021, which spurred the first-ever water shortage declaration in the Colorado River Basin, reported AccuWeather.

The Colorado River, which fills Lake Mead and Lake Powell, supports more than 40 million people living across seven Western states and Mexico, reported CNN. These two reservoirs provide drinking water and irrigation water, particularly impacting rural farms, ranches and native communities.

According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, it has built a low lake level pumping station and a third drinking water intake to protect and sustain the community's water supply in Lake Mead in the event the lake levels continue to fall. 

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