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‘Unrecognizable.’ Lake Mead, a lifeline for water in Los Angeles and the West, tips toward crisis

This view of Lake Mead was taken last July 26, 2021, during the 7th straight year of drought that had caused the lake to drop more than 100 feet to its lowest level since the late 1960s. PHOTO: NBC News/Ethan Miller/Getty

By Jaweed Kaleem and Thomas Curwen | 11 July 2021

LOS ANGELES TIMES — Eric Richins looked out from his pontoon boat to the shallows on the lake’s western edge. He squinted and paused as if he had come upon a foreign shore. For the first time in a career navigating the waters of the American West, he didn’t know where he was.

“I could have sworn I was here just six weeks ago catching smallmouth and bigmouth bass,” said the 35-year-old fisherman who runs tours on this 247-square-mile basin where the Colorado River meets the Hoover Dam to form the nation’s largest reservoir.

He pointed ahead to what looked like dozens of tiny steps made from successive layers of dried mud now covered in tall grass and weeds — the effect of rapidly creeping vegetation over a shoreline that has been dropping by nearly a foot a week.

“Now it looks like a lawn. I knew the drought was bad. I didn’t realize it was this bad,” he said. “This place is unrecognizable.”

Lake Mead, a lifeline for 25 million people and millions of acres of farmland in California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico, made history when it was engineered 85 years ago, capturing trillions of gallons of river water and ushering in the growth of the modern West.

But after years of an unrelenting drought that has quickly accelerated amid record temperatures and lower snowpack melt, the lake is set to mark another, more dire turning point. Next month, the federal government expects to declare its first-ever shortage on the lake, triggering cuts to water delivered to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico on Jan. 1. If the lake, currently at 1,068 feet, drops 28 more feet by next year, the spigot of water to California will start to tighten in 2023. […]

2 Comments on ‘Unrecognizable.’ Lake Mead, a lifeline for water in Los Angeles and the West, tips toward crisis

  1. Just this last weekend a buddy and I left North San Diego county and drive north through LA on the I5 corridor took a left on the 46 west to Paso Robles then up the 101 to Monterey. All along the route were tens of thousands of acres of grape vines, almond groves, and vegetable plantings. These properties exist with well water that is now metered by the state.
    California could feed a very large chunk of the globe if the Liberal douche political class would be discarded. Also on our trip we saw digital signs endorsing power conservation in order to prevent power outages.
    We have arrived at the point in history where top down destruction by elected officials is global and virtually irreversible.

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