Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lake Mead Sinks Lower

credit: Reuters
Not since 1937 when the reservior was filling behind Hoover Dam has Lake Mead been this low. The reservior has fallen to 1080 ft, 18 ft above sea level. The record-setting 14 year drought in California and the southwest has left a wide "bathtub ring" on the surrounding clifts. The nation's largest reservoir is now at 38% of capacity and experts predict it could breach 1070 ft by next April. The water level is approaching the 1075 mark which will trigger a federal declaration of a water shortage under which water rationing will be required in Las Vegas, NV. The heavily developed Las Vegas Valley draws 90% of its water needs from Lake Mead. One of its two main intake pipes will stop working if lake water sinks to 1050 feet above sea level.

Snowfall in the Rockies that feeds the Colorado River has fallen precipitously. Burea of Reclaimation statistics show in 2013 the runoff was 47% of normal. Colorado River basin temperatures are projected to increase by five to six degrees (℉) during this century; mean annual runoff is expected to decrease 8.5% by 2050. Nearly all the water in Lake Mead comes from this snow pack runoff. Governor Jerry Brown of California told the press at Echo Summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, "People should realize we are living in a new era. The idea of your nice little green lawn getting lots of water every day, that's going to be a thing of the past."