The Latest: Lake Mead hits a record low of 1,078 feet

Water cutbacks would start if the reservoir reaches 1,075.

  • Low water at Lake Mead.

    Chris Richards/CC Flickr
 

BACKSTORY
Former Las Vegas water boss Patricia Mulroy made numerous deals to keep water flowing from Lake Mead to her city and installed two water intakes deep in the reservoir. During her quarter-century tenure, the nation’s once-largest reservoir plummeted drastically, but never hit 1,075 feet, the level that triggers mandatory water-delivery cutbacks for Arizona and Nevada (“Unite and Conquer,” HCN, 3/2/15). 

FOLLOWUP
In early May, Lake Mead hit a record low — 1,078 feet. Drought in the Colorado River Basin has reduced the reservoir to 140 feet below what it was 15 years ago. A third intake, scheduled to go online this summer, will reach even deeper into the shrinking supply. Water cutbacks won’t start unless Mead is lower than 1,075 feet in January, though, and the Bureau of Reclamation predicts that lake depth could rise or even drop further by then, depending on precipitation and water releases from upstream Lake Powell.