Lake Mead at lowest level in nearly 80 years - 8 News NOW

Lake Mead at lowest level in nearly 80 years

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LAS VEGAS -- The Colorado River is running out of water and that's a big problem for the millions of people who live in the Southwest. Lake Mead, which is fed by the river, is now at it's lowest level since the Hoover Dam was built almost 80 years ago.

The lake also happens to be where southern Nevada gets most of its drinking water. The lake is expected to drop even more in the coming years.

The problem is two-fold. The 14-year drought has dried up water making it the driest stretch since Lake Mead was created. Also tremendous growth has occurred since the Colorado River Pact was signed in 1924 which divided up the water among severn western states. At that time, Nevada had a fraction of the population it has today.

The Colorado River was named 93 years ago. Actually the river has been around much longer, but July 25 marks the 93rd anniversary that Congress changed it's name to the one we know today.

"Sometimes you think, well what's going to happen if we run out of water, it's what feeds us all," said Rick Grimberg of Boulder City.

He loves to visit the lake that the river created.

"We've been here since the dam was over-flowing and we can see the dam because we live up here in Boulder City. I mean we can see the water level," Grimberg said.

Lake Mead has suffered as demands and drought have dwindled it's water source. The Colorado River winds it's way through seven western states and Mexico. It's precious water contributes $2.8 billion for Nevada every year. It supports 17,000 jobs and quenches the thirst of 2.5 million Nevadans and it remains in serious danger.

"We are going to get to a point where we won't be able to pump the water that's even left inside the Colorado River to go into our kitchens and into our showers and into our sinks," said Marco Rauda with Nuesto Rio, a coalition made up of 30,000 Latinos in several states. They're celebrating the river and what it represents during Colorado River Day.

"And this is more to bring awareness to the community about water conservation and about the drought in the Colorado region," Rauda said.

Conservation remains the battle cry to save the river and the lakes it supplies.

"We see it drop over and over again and I don't know," said Grimberg.

Unless something is done or the drought eases up, the Bureau of Reclamation says there will be huge water problems in the future. The Department of the Interior finished a study in 2012 which concluded demand on the river now exceeds supply and the demand will increase dramatically in the next 50 years. The study suggested states find ways to be more efficient to improve urban and farming usage of the water from the river.

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