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Before and after photos show how drought has caused water levels to drop by 140 feet at Lake Mead

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New images show just how drastic the drop in water levels are at Lake Mead, which is now only at 35 percent capacity as the western United States’ drought continues.  

A historic drought has severely effected Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River that is responsible for supplying drinking water to over 40 million people in the western U.S and parts of northern Mexico.

The largest manmade reservoir in the United States, which sits in both Nevada and Arizona, has fallen more than 146 feet since it’s peak in 2000 and is currently at 1,067.56 feet MSL, or mean sea level. Lake Mead’s maximum capcity is 1,229 feet MSL. 

Before
After

BEFORE (left) and AFTER in 2021 (right): Images show the lowering water level of Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam. The concrete arch-gravity dam constructed in the 1930’s in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River provides drinking water to Arizona, Nevada, and part of Mexico. But residents have been warned to prepare for shortages as an ongoing drought causes a sharp drop in water levels 

Before
After

BEFORE (left) and AFTER in 2021 (right): Images show boats fill up slips at a marina on Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, in Boulder City, Nevada. Areas which were once fully-submerged are now on dry land 

Before
After

BEFORE August 2000 (left) and AFTER August 2021 (right): Natural-color satellite images from NASA show how water levels at Lake Mead have dropped 21 years apart 

A dock that used to be on water now sits on dried land at Lake Mead Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Overton, Nevada

A dock that used to be on water now sits on dried land at Lake Mead Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Overton, Nevada

A boat that used to be underwater now sits on a dried section of Lake Mead Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Overton, Nevada

A boat that used to be underwater now sits on a dried section of Lake Mead Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Overton, Nevada

This chart from Nasa shows how water levels at Lake Mead have declined from around 1,220 feet in 2000 to just 1067 feet in July 2020. The water level remains around 1,067 feet as of October 6, according to local data

This chart from Nasa shows how water levels at Lake Mead have declined from around 1,220 feet in 2000 to just 1067 feet in July 2020. The water level remains around 1,067 feet as of October 6, according to local data 

It’s current low levels mean that less water will be portioned out to certain states for the 2022 water year, marking the first ‘shortage’ declaration ‘demonstrating the severity of the drought and low reservoir conditions,’ the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said. 

Arizona is set to be the hardest hit by the shortage, losing 18 percent of its share from the river next year, or 512,000 acre-feet of water. That’s around eight percent of the state’s total water use.

An acre-foot is enough water to supply one to two households a year.

Nevada will lose about seven percent of its allocation, or 21,000 acre-feet of water. But it will not feel the shortage largely because of conservation efforts which means it gets water from other sources. 

California is spared from immediate cuts because it has more senior water rights than Arizona and Nevada.

Mexico will see a reduction of roughly five percent, or 80,000 acre-feet. 

Lake Mead is not the only body of water currently effected by the drought, Lake Powell, the country’s second-largest reservoir, is currently seeing record-low water levels and is 32 percent full, falling faster than experts predicted.  

Scorching temperatures and less melting snow in the spring have reduced the amount of water flowing from the Rocky Mountains, where the Colorado river originates before it snakes 1,450 miles (2,334 kilometers) southwest and into the Gulf of California.

A boat passes by an exposed island on Lake Mead in Boulder City, Nevada which has been effected by a historic drought. The drop in water levels is clearly visible thanks to the difference in color between the top of the mound and the lower part

A boat passes by an exposed island on Lake Mead in Boulder City, Nevada which has been effected by a historic drought. The drop in water levels is clearly visible thanks to the difference in color between the top of the mound and the lower part 

An aerial view shows a dried boat launch ramp at Lake Mead which is currently only at 35 percent capacity following a drought. Water would once have covered the land right up to the edge of the parking lot which is visible top right

An aerial view shows a dried boat launch ramp at Lake Mead which is currently only at 35 percent capacity following a drought. Water would once have covered the land right up to the edge of the parking lot which is visible top right 

The Lake Mead Marina is seen against a drought-stricken shoreline in Boulder City, Nevada. The water has dropped so low that a causeway has now formed and separated parts of the lake that were once merged together

The Lake Mead Marina is seen against a drought-stricken shoreline in Boulder City, Nevada. The water has dropped so low that a causeway has now formed and separated parts of the lake that were once merged together 

View of Hemenway Harbor in Lake Mead which has seen lowering water levels due tp a drought caused by scorching temperatures in the West. Other so-called 'bathtub ring' showing how water levels have dropped are visible on islands seen in the background

View of Hemenway Harbor in Lake Mead which has seen lowering water levels due tp a drought caused by scorching temperatures in the West. Other so-called ‘bathtub ring’ showing how water levels have dropped are visible on islands seen in the background 

An aerial view shows a dried boat launch ramp at Lake Mead which has fallen more than 146 feet since it's peak in 2000 and is currently at 1,067.56 feet MSL, or mean sea level. The water would once have come right up to the ramp's edge

An aerial view shows a dried boat launch ramp at Lake Mead which has fallen more than 146 feet since it’s peak in 2000 and is currently at 1,067.56 feet MSL, or mean sea level. The water would once have come right up to the ramp’s edge 

In this aerial view, exposed intake towers stand in Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam constructed in the 1930s. The water would normally sit towards the top of the towers, with the white mark on the surrounding rocks showing how high it once sat

In this aerial view, exposed intake towers stand in Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam constructed in the 1930s. The water would normally sit towards the top of the towers, with the white mark on the surrounding rocks showing how high it once sat 

A boat launch ramp leads to dry land at Lake Mead due to declining water levels that leave the reservoir at just 35 percent capacity

A boat launch ramp leads to dry land at Lake Mead due to declining water levels that leave the reservoir at just 35 percent capacity

Lake Mead water levels in 2021 have dropped drastically throughout the year and currently stands at 1,067.56 feet MSL

Lake Mead water levels in 2021 have dropped drastically throughout the year and currently stands at 1,067.56 feet MSL

‘We’re at a moment where we’re reckoning with how we continue to flourish with less water, and it’s very painful,’ Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University, said.

Water levels at the reservoir have been falling since 1999 due to the dry spell enveloping the West and increased water demand caused by population growth. With weather patterns expected to worsen, experts say the reservoir may never be full again.

Though Lake Mead and Lake Powell could theoretically be refilled, planning for a hotter, drier future with less river water would be more prudent, said Porter of Arizona State University.

More than 95 percent of the Western US is currently experiencing drought conditions, the largest area since the US Drought Monitor was created, with more than 28 percent of the area experiencing exceptional drought, the most severe level.

The drought is drying up lakes across the West and worsening massive wildfires affecting California and Oregon. 

Extreme conditions like these are often from a combination of unusual random, short-term and natural weather patterns heightened by long-term, human-caused climate change.

Scientists have long warned that the weather will get wilder as the world warms, and climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years.

Besides water supply, the drop in water levels effect the dam’s electrical output, meaning millions might be left without power.  

The dam generates electricity for parts of Arizona, California and Nevada, producing on average about 2,074 megawatts, which is enough electricity for about 8 million people, according to the Western Area Power Administration.   

A boat is seen on balanced on blocks at Lake Mead Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Overton, Nevada

A boat is seen on balanced on blocks at Lake Mead Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Overton, Nevada

A man walks on a dock that sits on dry land at Lake Mead Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Overton, Nevada

A man walks on a dock that sits on dry land at Lake Mead Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Overton, Nevada

A spillway sits dry at Lake Mead on the Arizona side of the Hoover Dam that is responsible for supplying drinking water to over 40 million people in the western U.S and parts of northern Mexico

A spillway sits dry at Lake Mead on the Arizona side of the Hoover Dam that is responsible for supplying drinking water to over 40 million people in the western U.S and parts of northern Mexico

'Bathtub rings' are seen along the shoreline of Lake Mead in this image from above in an unincorporated area

‘Bathtub rings’ are seen along the shoreline of Lake Mead in this image from above in an unincorporated area

An aerial view shows a dried shoreline that continues to shrink as Lake Mead's water levels keep on dipping due to the drought

An aerial view shows a dried shoreline that continues to shrink as Lake Mead’s water levels keep on dipping due to the drought

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