ALBUQUERQUE, NM – An important reservoir on the Colorado River has fallen to its lowest level in the region’s most recent drought.
The height of Lake Mead along the Nevada-Arizona border sank to 1,071.56 feet on Wednesday night at 11 p.m. According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Reclamation, the level was last hit in July 2016 and is 18.5 feet lower than a year ago. This is the lowest level since Lake Mead was filled in the 1930s.
“We expect the reservoir to fall by November, after which it will begin to recover,” said Patty Aaron, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Reclamation.
Water levels affect the recreation industry, which is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the country and affects the efficiency of hydropower generation at the Gover Dam.
It will not be used until August, when the Land Reclamation Bureau will issue an official projection to determine water supplies to Arizona, California and Nevada next year. The agency said it is already expected to issue its first deficit declaration in Arizona and Nevada, demanding cuts.
“People are really worried,” Aaron said. “You’re looking at the reservoir, that’s about it.”
Meed Lake levels decrease and flow throughout the year depending on climate change and how much water is consumed or evaporated. Officials say the lake will drop to 1,064 feet when agriculture is due to decline in November, Aaron said.
States, water districts, and tribes have for years supported various agreements to keep Lake Mead from falling to a level where it cannot supply water.
The Colorado River supplies Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming with a population of 40 million and an agricultural industry worth $ 5 billion a year.