Lake Mead’s water level has dropped to an all-time low, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last week, citing ongoing drought in the Southwest as the cause of the decline.
The lake, formed by Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border, is currently more than 200 feet below its “full” level of 1,296 feet above sea level. Lake Mead last reached that level in 1998, and the subsequent drought has left a large white “bathtub ring” around the water line.
If the water level drops much further, it could trigger a shortage declaration, which would mean less water would be delivered to the areas the lake serves, including Phoenix and Las Vegas. That isn’t expected to happen this year or in 2015, but the bureau said there’s a 50-50 chance of it happening in 2016.
Lake Mead is currently at 39 percent of its water capacity. Lake Powell, on the Arizona-Utah border, is at 52 percent capacity.
Despite the drought, we hope you’ll continue to enjoy Lake Mead National Recreation Area‘s boating, fishing and hiking opportunities. As we reported earlier this month, a portion of the Colorado River there recently became the first National Water Trail in the Southwest.