Lake Mead Dropping to 1075 is Early Warning Signal

Last night at 11:00 pm Lake Mead’s surface elevation dropped below 1075 feet, a new all-time low, and a level that will have substantial implications for the Bureau of Reclamation and the seven states (AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT, WY) sharing water from the Colorado River. 

The Bureau does not automatically reduce water allocations to the Lower Basin states when the 1075 level is hit, but it is a strong indication that—unless things change dramatically— shortages are soon on the way.

Western Resource Advocates Bart Miller, Healthy Rivers Program Director, issued the following statement in response to Lake Mead dropping to 1075 feet:

“The 1075-foot level in Lake Mead is an early warning signal – and one that reflects over-allocation of the Colorado River’s limited water supply, delivering more water to communities and agriculture than the River can sustain. The drought and climate change are exacerbating the situation. Even several good years of rain and snow won’t get the system back into balance. Our over-allocation is not only causing bathtub rings in Lake Mead and Lake Powell and stressing communities; it is causing stress to rivers and impacting the related recreational economy, worth over $26 billion annually. We are all concerned about the ability of farms and ranches, which feed our population, to continue operations.

We are all in this together. This is a basin-wide problem and we should all work together to implement available solutions that work well for cities, rural communities, agriculture, recreation and our environment. Those solutions include: 1) Helping agriculture increase its water efficiency; 2) Providing flexibility for compensated sharing between agriculture and cities; 3) Deploying “Next Generation” water conservation in our communities to accelerate reliable, quick, low-cost urban water efficiency; and 4) Increasing water recycling in communities throughout the West.

We need leadership from all levels of government to take conservation steps now, to avoid bankrupting the Colorado River and the communities that rely upon it. This would have devastating impacts on wildlife habitats and on our Western way of life, including our recreational opportunities, farms and ranches, and our urban communities. We need our leaders to act now to implement these solutions before the crisis grows.”