The ongoing drought in the Southwest has caused a drastic drop in water level at Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States which supplies water to California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and part of Mexico.
By the end of the year the Lake, which rests behind the Hoover Dam is predicted to drop to 1,080 feet above sea level down from its high of 1,225 feet.
According to an AP report, if the drought persists, water levels could sink to 1,075 feet by 2016, cutting off water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada. A drop to 1,000 feet would dry up all drinking water intakes to Las Vegas and would devastate a population of 2 million residents, which entertains some 40 million tourists per year. Sin City is almost completely dependent on the reservoir.
Farmers and marina officials are closely tracking the reservoir water level, already at its lowest point since it was first filled in the 1930s. Marina operator Steve Biggs reportedly exclaimed, “We just hope for snow and rain up in Colorado, so it’ll come our way.” Biggs was referring to the fact that precipitation in the Rockies flows down the Colorado River and fills the previously teeming reservoir which covers about 248 square miles separating Nevada and Arizona.
Farmers in California’s Imperial Valley, who transformed half a million acres of desert into one of the most bountiful farming regions in the world, have senior water rights to Lake Mead guaranteeing that they get water regardless of the circumstances.