The reservoir stands at its shortest level due to the fact that the 1930s.

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Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United claims and part of a mechanism that gives water come at the very least 40 million people across seven states and also northern Mexico. The stands this particular day at its lowest level due to the fact that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president. This means less water will certainly be portioned out to some says in the 2022 water year.

As of august 22, 2021,Lake Mead was filledto just 35 percent of its capacity. The low water level comes at a time when 95 percent that the soil in ripe Western says is impacted bysome level that drought(64 percent is extreme or worse). It proceeds a 22-yearmegadroughtthat might be the region’s worst dry spell in twelve centuries.

These natural-color photos were obtained in august 2000 and also August 2021 byLandsat 7andLandsat 8. The tan fringes follow me the coast in 2021 are locations of the lakebed that would be underwater when the reservoir is fill closer to capacity. The phenomenon is often referred to together a “bathtub ring.”


The lake key data listed below come indigenous the U.S. Office of Reclamation, which manages Lake Mead,Lake Powell, and also other parts of the Colorado river watershed. At the finish of July 2021, the water key at the Hoover Dam was 1067.65 feet (325 meters) over sea level, thelowest since April 1937, as soon as the lake to be still being filled. The key at the finish of July 2000—around the time of the Landsat 7 images over and below—was 1199.97 feet (341 meters).


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2000 – 2021


At best capacity, Lake Mead reaches an elevation 1,220 feet (372 meters) close to the dam and would hold 9.3 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters) of water. The lakelast approached complete capacityin the summers of 1983 and also 1999. It has actually been dropping ever since.

In many years, around 10 percent that the water in the lake originates from local precipitation and also groundwater, with the remainder coming indigenous snowmelt in the Rocky mountains that melts and flows under to rivers, traveling through Lake Powell, glen Canyon, and also the cool Canyon top top the way. TheColorado river basinis controlled to provide water to countless people—most significantly the cities of san Diego, las Vegas, Phoenix, and also Los Angeles—and 4-5 million acre of farmland in the Southwest. The flow is allotted come states and to Mexico through regulations like the 1922 Colorado river Compact and by a recent drought contingency planannounced in 2019.

With the Lake Mead reservoir at 35 percent of capacity, Lake Powell at 31 percent, and the whole Lower Colorado system at 40 percent, theBureau the Reclamation announcedon august 16 that water allocations would be cut over the next year. “The top container experienced an exceptionally dry feather in 2021, with April to July runoff into Lake Powell totaling just 26 percent of average regardless of near-average snowfall last winter,” the USBR statement said. ”Given ongoing historical drought and also low runoff problems in the Colorado flow Basin, downstream releases native Glen Canyon Dam and also Hoover Dam will be lessened in 2022 early to declining reservoir levels. In the Lower container the reductions represent the very first “shortage” declaration—demonstrating the severity the the drought and also low reservoir conditions.”


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August 7, 2000 – respectable 9, 2021


For the 2022 water year, which starts October 1, Mexico will receive 80,000 fewer acre-feet, about 5 percent the the country’s annual allotment and also Nevada’s take will be cut by: 21,000 acre-feet (about 7 percent the the state’s annual apportionment). The best cuts will involved Arizona, which will receive 512,000 under acre-feet, about 18 percent the the state’s yearly apportionment and also 8 percent of the state’s full water usage (for farming and person consumption). An acre-foot is sufficient water to supply one to two households a year.

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NASA planet Observatory photos by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from theU.S. Geological Surveyand lake elevation data native theBureau of Reclamation. Story by Michael Carlowicz and also Kathryn Hansen.