The Hoover Dam reservoir is at a historic low

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Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the Hoover Dam, which supplies water to 25 million people in western states, is at an all-time low. On June 9, the water level dropped to 1,071.57 feet above sea level, barely beating a record low last set in 2016.

The lake’s surface has dropped 140 feet since 2000, leaving the reservoir only 37 percent full. With such a dramatic drop, officials expect to declare a civil servant water shortage for the first time ever. That could affect the water and energy Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam supply to Arizona, California and Nevada.

The water levels at Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, are expected to decrease throughout the year. The drought pulling on the lake’s water levels is also affecting other states in the region. “Please join me and the Utahns, regardless of their religious affiliation, in a weekend of humble prayer for rain,” Utah Governor Spencer Cox said in a video plea last week. He declared a state of emergency in March when Utah, like much of the West, plunged deep into drought.

The West is ablaze in deep red and burgundy due to drought Cards for the US, indicating “extreme” to “exceptional drought”. Farmers, who are already abandoning their crops due to lack of water, are feel the tension most.

A snapshot from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Drought Monitor on June 1, 2021.
NOAA

It didn’t help that a blistering spring heat wave hit much of the continental US last weekend. Las Vegas, about 30 miles from Lake Mead, reached 109 degrees Fahrenheit and could see even higher temperatures next week. All in all, the drought and heat are scary omens for this year’s fire season. An above-normal fire risk is: predicted for the southwest through June, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

In July, the monsoon season in the southwest is expected to kick off and provide some relief – at least temporarily. Climate change has brought about higher spring and summer temperatures, more severe wildfires, less snow (on which much of the West depends for water), and more intense dry seasons.