Projections show Lake Mead dropping far below government’s ‘shortage’ level

Local News

In this July 28, 2014, file photo, lightning strikes over Lake Mead near Hoover Dam that impounds Colorado River water at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Projections for Lake Mead show it dropping well below the lowest level on record in the next 20 months.

Bureau of Reclamation projections contained in a 24-month study indicate the lake could fall another 30 feet by November 2022.

Lake Mead is currently at 1,079.46 feet.

The agency monitors the lake level and makes decisions on how to allocate river water. Measurements and projections that are released in August will determine if a Level 1 shortage would be declared. That would trigger automatic cuts in water allocations.

Projections right now don’t look good.

Lake Mead is expected to drop to 1,071.57 feet in June, which would break the record of 1,071.6 feet, set in June of 1981. That’s about four feet below the level that would trigger a federal declaration of a water shortage.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) has been proactive as the current 22-year drought has persisted, and the state has not been using its full allocation of river water as conservation saved water even as the valley continues to grow.

Officials say even if a shortage were declared, the water supply is still sufficient for now. SNWA says it has an eight-year supply of water saved.

If projections hold, that 1981 record could become a distant memory. The 24-month study shows Lake Mead at 1,049.4 feet in November of 2022.

An $817 million project (completed in 2015) to construct a “third straw” to draw water from Lake Mead at the 860-foot level provides security. Two other “straws” take water at the 1,000-foot and 1,050-foot levels.

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