and Federal Authorities Say It’s Going to Get Worse…
California’s record-breaking drought — the worst in over a thousand years — has captured headlines. But across the western United States, high temperatures and meager amounts of snowfall are causing havoc.
And it might be the sign of a new normal in the West.
Water levels in Nevada’s Lake Mead, which powers the Hoover Dam and supplies water and power to tens of millions, dropped to historic lows this morning. According to the US Bureau of Reclamation, which built and manages hundreds of dams in the West, water levels at Lake Mead dipped to 1,080.07 feet, just below last August’s record of 1,080.19 feet.
According to Reuters, the Bureau projects that water levels will continue to fall through at least the end of May, when it says levels could drop to 1,073 feet — far below the record high of 1,206 feet reached in the 1980s.
Melting snowpack in the Rocky Mountains flows into the Colorado River, which in turn feeds Lake Mead. In 2013, according to Reuters, Rocky Mountain meltwater was at 47 percent of normal levels.
Forty million people in Nevada, Arizona, Southern California, and Mexico rely on Lake Mead for water. And the the Hoover Dam provides eight million people with power.
As water levels diminish, so too does electrical output.