Lake Mead's water level shrinked to the lowest level in history to 1,074.68 feet above sea level on May 18. Federal water officials expect the Colorado River reservoir to shrink even further as a result of the ongoing Southwestern drought.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is planning for the waters to reduce further by the end of June. Afterwards, the lake will be restocked towards the year's end just enough to pass the critical water-level mark.
The refilling project will help ensure that the water supply to farms, residents, businesses and tribes across Nevada, California and Arizona will not be affected by the water level shrinkage.
According to reclamation bureau spokesperson Rose Davis, the current water level of Lake Mead has exceeded the historically low levels documented on June 25, 2015.
"We expect the lake to continue to drop to levels near 1,070 feet by the end of June. However, they are expected to be back by Dec. 31 above the levels that would trigger a shortage declaration in 2017," added Davis.
Lake Mead was last seen with its full capacity in 1983. A distinct "bathtub ring" made of white mineral surrounds the lake. This feature is a reminder of the 130 feet of surface water level lost since 2000. At present, the lake is approximately 37 percent full, according to Davis.
The reservoir provides most of the drinking water to the 2 million residents of Las Vegas as well as the 40 million local and foreign nationals who visit the "The Silver City" per year. Lake Mead also serves water to approximately 40 million people in seven states in the Southwest.
Lake Mead goes through the same ordeal year after year. The water level rises in the first few months of the year and reduces when summer hits. The following year, the water rises again.
However, the rate of river water overuse continues to rise, and its impact plays a big role in keeping the water levels low and dropping.
If the water level will reach 1,075 feet at the end of the year, an official water shortage will be declared. The reclamation agency predicted that the water levels will reach 1,073 feet by the end of 2017.
Photo: Raquel Baranow | Flickr