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Lake Mead Could Soon Form a ‘Dead Pool’ as Water Levels Drop to Extreme Lows

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Low water levels at Lake Mead.

Low water levels at Lake Mead.
Photo: Mario Tama (Getty Images)

Lake Mead’s water levels have reached a new low. This time, the reservoir’s levels are as low as they were back in 1936 when it was developed.

Data from the Bureau of Reclamation shows that water levels in the reservoir, which sits on the border of Arizona and Nevada along the Colorado River, were about 1,044 feet above sea level this week. Water levels last month stood at 1,047.69 feet—that’s more than 20 feet below levels at this time in 2021, which was also a low year.

There are over 100 feet of mineral bathtub rings on the cliffs by the lake, which show just how much the water had receded these past few decades. The alarmingly low water levels could also form a “dead pool,” which is when there isn’t enough water left in the reservoir to generate hydroelectric power and for the water to flow downstream, the BBC reported. This will occur when the water levels in Lake Mead go under 895 feet, NBC News reported. Current levels mean that the potential for the reservoir becoming a dead pool is less than 200 feet away.

The Colorado River, which runs through the state and pools behind the Hoover Dam to create the Lake Mead reservoir, is also seeing critically low water flow. Levels in Lake Mead have been so low that a body in a barrel was found in mud that was previously covered in several feet of water. A week later, more skeletal remains were found by lake visitors.

All of this comes as the Southwest continues to experience the worst megadrought in over 1,000 years. ​​The country’s current widespread drought is being felt by millions of people. Low water levels are affecting hydropower in California, and elected officials in the state and in Texas have implemented water restrictions. Last week, scientists confirmed that we are heading into another La Niña fall, which means that the U.S. may continue to see ongoing drought conditions.

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