Lake Mead water levels continue to drop, authorities not alarmed

Jose Castro – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Las Vegas, NV, United States (4E) – As the largest reservoir currently in operation in the continental United States, the maximum capacity of Lake Mead is able to service the water needs of Las Vegas Nevada and Arizona. The lake was formed after the construction of the Hoover Dam and at its highest level, can hold 28 million acre-feet of water.

Right after Memorial Day, in the midst of a 14 year long drought to its lowest levels since it was created back in 1938. Throughout the decades, this reservoir of the mighty Colorado River had provided the water for about 40 million individuals as well as 4 million acres of farmlands. The reservoir also had provided businesses for marina operators and other water craft managers in the area.

The last decade and the half has seen the water levels drop by as much as 130 feet. The continued drought in the region, where mountain water feeds the Colorado has not arrived to replenish what has been taken by the booming areas around the Hoover Dam. At its highest, water levels in the lake reached 1,225 back in 1983.

According to National Park Services officers in the area, after the Fourth of July weekend, the water levels have dropped a total of thirty feet from last May. One of the major reasons for the increased rate in the drop in the water levels is the high temperatures in the area, with record highs of 120 degrees Farenheit.

Despite the appalling numbers, the US Bureau of Reclamation is optimistic that by late August, a rise would be registered in the lake’s water levels would occur. According to Terry Fulp, the director for the BLR Colorado region, “We will meet our water orders this year and we are not projecting a shortage condition in 2015. We continue to closely monitor the projections of declining lake levels and are working with stakeholders throughout the Lower Basin to keep as much water in Lake Mead as we can through various storage and conservation efforts.”

Other efforts are being undertaken to augment the water supply. These include cloud seeding to help rainclouds form. There is also a US$187 million project to lay new pipeline to go even deeper into the reservoir. There are also plans to build desalination plants to recycle used water for use again in the valley. The continued demand though may still surpass the supply, creating more issues in the long run instead of providing solutions. Efforts though still are being undertaken to make each drop of water in the region count.

Meteorologists, in their 2015 forecasts, are saying another large drop in water levels should be expected at 1,069 feet or lower. By the spring of 2016, the reservoir would be at 1,064 feet. When the water level drops to 1,050, the authorities would be forced to shut down one of the two pipes leading to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. This pipe provides 90% of the water needs of the Las Vegas Valley.

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