Levels at Lake Mead - America's largest reservoir by volume - fell to historic lows on Thursday, as the region continues to face the effects of prolonged drought devastatingtrice.
Located on the main branch of the Colorado River in the Mojave along the Arizona-Nevada , Lake Mead was formed with the construction of the Hoover Dam, which produces electricity for parts of Arizona California and Nevada. It supplies water to urban, rural and tribal lands in the southwest.
Officials, who said the reservoir would be at its lowest since the 1930s when the dam was built, expect levels to worsen over the course of a another hot and dry summer. With no respite expected in the coming months, the man-made lake is currently at around 36% of its capacity.
In normal years, the dam produces enough electricity for 8 million people, but theThe water supply will slow energy production while adding additional pressure on increasingly water-deprived systems across the west.
" Every foot the lake level drops means about six [megawatts] of lost capacity, "Patricia Aaron, the data Bureau of Reclamation spokesperson , says CNN. The energy capacity of the Hoover Dam had already fallen 25% on Tuesday, and Aaron added that levels will continue to decline until the fall of this year.
The rapid decline prompted plans for the first declaration of water shortage offederal government, according to reports from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released in April, which forecast record declines. The statement, which will likely be released in August of this year, would affect distribution to states and Mexico.
About 75% of the US West is currently mired in "severe drought , according to the US Drought Monitor, but the region has been strained by drought conditions for decades. The climate crisis has amplified the effects of the drought as the temperatures have washed away the already sparse snowpack and removed even more moisture from the landscape.
Historic drought has caused the Colorado River system to shrink by half, according to the US Department of the Interior, which also reports that bassin had the lowest entries over 16 years in the 100 years of record retention.
About one in 10 Americans depend on the Colorado River for some of their water, and the basin also irrigates over 5.5 million acres in the southwest. Twenty-two recognized tribes depend on the river as a vital economic and cultural resource.
"The past 10 years of runoff from the Colorado River have been the driest in history of the river, exacerbating a drought declaration meeting the expected federal declaration.
"The conditions we see this year highlight the threat of climate change and the drying trend we are seeing let's observe on the river ", he added. "We must continue to work collaboratively as we enter into longer-term discussions on how to address the river's supply imbalance.
Las Vegas recently became the first city in the United States to ban "unnecessary grass" around streets, offices and housing estates in an effort to conserve water. Steve Sisolak, Governor of Nevada, cited the "tub rings" in Lake Mead as a disastrous sign to act.
"It behooves us at the next generation to be more awareis about conservation and our natural resources, ”he said.