Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, reached historic low levels over the weekend, another indication of the persistent drought that grips the American West.
Saturday night, even after a prolonged rainstorm, the gauges at Lake Mead settled out at 1,080.13 feet. It’s the lowest recorded lake elevation since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s, said Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation, a federal agency that oversees water resources.
And it didn’t stop there. By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the lake was at 1,079.76 feet. If lake levels fall below 1,075 feet––which could happen this summer––it will trigger restrictions on the amount of water than can be drawn from the lake. Additional restrictions would follow if levels reach below 1,050 feet and 1,025 feet.
The city of Las Vegas, which gets 90 percent of its water from Lake Mead, is so concerned about falling reservoir levels that it is building a new intake pipeline deeper within the lake, to ensure it will be able withdraw water even if lake levels continue to decline.