Lake Mead water nearing a low point - 8 News NOW

Lake Mead water nearing a low point

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LAS VEGAS -- Lake Mead is expected to reach its lowest level ever next week. It's a concern because Lake Mead is southern Nevada's water source.

The highest elevation the lake reached this year was 1,108 feet. The lake is currently down to 1,082, which is seven feet above the mark when a water shortage can be declared.

It's obvious lake water levels have dropped over the years. The white line water mark around the lake shows better times. It was in 1983 when the lake was at its fullest.

Tim O'Byrne and his son, Mark, try to spend time at Lake Mead every week for tubing and snorkeling. They often take note of the water line mark.

"It changes every time you come out here," said Tim O'Byrne. "I don't like it. I'd rather see it going up. How low is it going to go before enough is enough?"

Lake Mead dropped to its lowest level in 2010 when it measured 1,081 feet deep.

"We are anticipating that sometime between the week of July 7 and July 13 that we will reach that record," said Christie Vanover, Lake Mead National Recreational Area.

And that's not the only fear.

"The critical concern here is that if Lake Mead drops below elevations 1,075, we would see water shortages for Nevada and Arizona," said Bronson Mack, Southern Nevada Water Authority.

It's predicted the lake could drop to 1,075 in April 2015.

"The important thing to know here is that Nevada has already conserved enough water to get us through our shortage periods," Mack said. "Our first shortage is going to be 13,000 acre feed. We've already conserved that water."

But accessing the water is a concern. The first intake that pumps water from the Lake to homes and businesses is located at 1,050 feet. The second intake is at 1,000 feet. The third straw, which will open next summer, is at 800 feet.

While the West is in a drought, Lake Mead is still the largest reservoir in the United States.

"We rarely get to the back side of the lake. It's like 67 miles from here. There's a lot of water out there," O'Byrne said.

The Las Vegas area has cut water usage by 30 percent despite the population growing by 20 percent over the past decade.

Ninety-six percent of the water in the lake comes from melted snow that fell in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming

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