Albuquerque, New Mexico • A key reservoir on the Colorado River is expected to plunge to its all-time low on Thursday in the latest demonstration of the drought’s grip on the region.
The surface elevation of Lake Mead along the Nevada-Arizona border is expected to be 1,071.61 feet – a measurement that was reached in 2016. This is the lowest level since Lake Mead was completed in the 1930s.
“We expect the reservoir to continue declining until November, and then it should start to rebound,” said US Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patti Aaron.
The water level affects the recreation industry in what is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the country and the efficiency of hydropower generation at the Hoover Dam.
It won’t be used to determine next year’s water deliveries to Arizona, California and Nevada until August, when the Bureau of Reclamation releases an official projection. Already, the agency has said it should declare the very first declaration of shortages that results in cuts in Arizona and Nevada.
“People are definitely worried,” Aaron said. “You look at the tank and it’s worrying.”
Levels in Lake Mead fluctuate throughout the year depending on weather conditions and the amount of water consumed or evaporated. Authorities predict the lake will drop to 1,064 feet before rebounding in November when agricultural needs decline, Aaron said.
States, river basin districts and tribes have supported Lake Mead over the years through various agreements to keep it from falling to a point where it could no longer provide water downstream.
The Colorado River supplies 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming as well as a $ 5 billion a year agricultural industry.