Amid an intensifying drought, Lake Mead in Nevada, the nation’s largest reservoir by volume, reached its lowest level since the 1930s late Wednesday. From a report: The record low is due to a combination of years of punishing drought that’s worsening across the Southwest, as well as challenges in managing water resources for a burgeoning population. The record-low reading, as well as expected subsequent drops in the lake, are almost certain to trigger a federal “water shortage” declaration later this summer, which would set off cuts in water allocations to several states. Lake Mead, which sits along the border between Nevada and Arizona, is part of the vast Colorado River basin that provides water for agriculture and human consumption to seven states, and also generates electricity at the massive Hoover Dam.
Cuts in water supplies, to be determined in August, would affect the region’s farmers, residents of sprawling cities such as Las Vegas, and others. Already, the Hoover Dam is operating below its maximum capacity, and it could see a further reduction in power generation as the summer goes on. Years of unusually dry conditions along with a growing population and water resource decisions have helped lead to the situation. As of Thursday morning, the Bureau of Reclamation showed Lake Mead’s hourly water levels dipped to 1,071.48 feet Thursday, and remained below the previous record set on July 1, 2016.
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