9.5 C
New York
Saturday, April 20, 2024

Why Is Lake Mead Drying Up?

Why is Lake Mead drying up, and what does that mean for people who rely on it as their water source? The Alarming drying up of Lake Mead is a major concern for all of us, not just those who live in close proximity to the lake.

Environmental and geotechnical drilling experts offer insights into why is Lake Mead drying up and also the long-term effects of lowering water levels all across the Western United States.

The Alarming Drying Up of Lake Mead

Why Is Lake Mead Drying Up?

In March of 2023, North America’s largest artificial reservoir, Lake Mead, dropped to just above 1,047 feet above sea level, as the Las Vegas Sun reported. The reservoir is seeing some of the lowest levels it’s had since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. These extremely low levels concern many cities, including Las Vegas, that rely on it for its water supply.

Is Lake Mead drying up?

For the past decade and a half, the simple answer was yes. According to environmental and geotechnical drilling experts, this is due to a 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States. There has also been a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, partly due to cuts in the reservoir’s annual allocation of water from Lake Powell.

It has become so bad that the National Park Service was forced to close or significantly extend the few boat launch ramps left on the lake. The service has even had to move entire marinas in an attempt to keep up with the receding water levels. Why is Lake Mead drying up? Mainly because it does not have any water coming into it regularly.

But it is not just a drought in the region that has caused a constant decrease in water levels here year after year. The reservoir near Las Vegas on the Colorado River has steadily declined for decades because the reservoir and the larger Colorado River system have been over-allocated for years.

The Alarming Drying Up of Lake Mead 2

Why Is Lake Mead Drying Up?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s projections, a 2007 agreement as part of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Colorado River Interim Guidelines calls for delivery cuts if water levels in Lake Mead drop below 1,075 feet.

These delivery cuts would actually be the first set of mandatory water delivery curtailments to Lake Mead. And if the water levels continue to drop as predicted, more cuts will be required.

The Bureau of Reclamation predicted that the first round of cuts could take place as early as January 2017. Arizona and Southern Nevada would suffer the most significant cuts, but Utah and California will also feel the pinch.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the state of Arizona plans to curtail “groundwater recharge efforts” and cut “deliveries to farmers with low-priority rights.” Experts say Arizona’s cities would not be affected initially, but if the levels continue to drop, the cuts could have a detrimental effect.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that Southern Nevada, for its part, “has prepared with conservation, saving enough water that residents and businesses won’t be affected if a portion no longer is available.” Some would read into that statement to say other cities are not doing their part.

Why Is Lake Mead Drying Up

Why Is Lake Mead Drying Up?

Further reductions would kick in when the reservoir dips below 1,050 feet and again at 1,025 feet. Experts said no water rationing agreements are yet in place if the water level hits and then falls below 1,025 feet.

Why Is Lake Mead Drying Up?

Because more water is being taken from than is being replaced each year. At this time, water usage reductions have already affected several states. Many industries, including agriculture and animal farming, are already feeling the impact of having less water to use on their farms.

Many geologists and ecologists have been sounding the alarm about the extreme drought conditions in the American southwest for years, but very little has actually been done to combat wasteful water habits.

Restrictions on watering yards and using water to clean driveways and sidewalks are just the first acts that experts agree should be enacted immediately. Removing grass yards and water-thirsty citrus trees is another option being discussed.

For more information on the current condition of Lake Mead and future estimates on its water levels, continue reading here.

Read more – Best Ways to Conserve Water in the Yard

Latest Articles