Lake Mead drops to historic low
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Once-teeming Lake Mead marinas are idle as a 14-year drought steadily drops water levels to historic lows. Officials from nearby Las Vegas are pushing conservation but also are drilling a new pipeline to keep drawing water from the lake.
Hundreds of miles away, farmers who receive water from the lake behind Hoover Dam are preparing for the worst.
The receding shoreline at one of the main reservoirs in the vast Colorado River water system is raising concerns about the future of a network serving a perennially parched region of 4 million acres that is home to 40 million people.
By 2016, continued drought could trigger cuts in water deliveries. While water authorities say they’ve been saving water for potential dry days, the prospect of the first cuts is already prompting action.
“I’ve downsized in the last couple of years, probably a good thing the way this water shortage is going,” said farmer Dennis Bagnall, who has planted just 225 of the 1,500 acres that are typically green this time of year on his farm south of Phoenix.
Last week, officials announced an $11 million pilot program involving the federal government and water agencies in Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix to pay farmers, cities and industries to reduce river water use.
Lake Mead supplies water to California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and part of Mexico.
PHOTO: A ring of light minerals shows the high water line near Hoover Dam on Lake Mead in Nevada. (John Locher/Associated Press)