Images reveal dramatic drop in Lake Mead water levels

23 PHOTOS
fight for 15
See Gallery
Images reveal dramatic drop in Lake Mead water levels
Lake Mead water levels have dropped to an all-time low as the drought wears on. (Climate.gov)
Rings on Hoover Dam show just how devastating the drought has been to the man-made reservoir. (Climate.gov)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 26: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 26, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, AZ - JULY 30: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) The Arizona Intake Towers (L) and Nevada Intake Towers on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam on July 30, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, AZ - JULY 17: (Bottom) The Arizona Intake Towers (L) and Nevada Intake Towers on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam are shown on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 25: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 25, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A pair of rest rooms on pontoon floats rest on dirt in Boulder Harbor where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 29: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Lake Mead is seen in the distance behind boats in dry dock near the Lake Mead Marina July 29, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead in the distance behind boats in dry dock near where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: A pair of rest rooms on pontoon floats rest on dirt in Boulder Harbor where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
This NASA image shows Lake Mead water levels on July 21, 2014.
LAKE MEAD NRA, AZ - JULY 30: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) The Arizona Intake Towers (L) and Nevada Intake Towers on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam on July 30, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, AZ - JULY 17: (Bottom) The Arizona Intake Towers (L) and Nevada Intake Towers on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam are shown on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 26: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 26, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 25: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 25, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A pair of rest rooms on pontoon floats rest on dirt in Boulder Harbor where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, AZ - JULY 30: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) The Arizona Intake Towers at the Hoover Dam July 30, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, AZ - JULY 17: (Bottom) The Arizona Intake Towers at the Hoover Dam are shown on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 26: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 26, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 29: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Lake Mead is seen in the distance behind boats in dry dock near the Lake Mead Marina July 29, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead in the distance behind boats in dry dock near where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 25: In this composite image, (Left) Lake Mead Marina is seen behind dry cracked earth in an area that was once filled with water from Lake In this before-and-after Mead July 25, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Right) Lake Mead is seen in the distance behind dry cracked earth in an area that used to be underwater near where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 25: In this composite image, (Left) Lake Mead Marina is seen behind dry cracked earth in an area that was once filled with water from Lake In this before-and-after Mead July 25, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Right) Lake Mead is seen in the distance behind dry cracked earth in an area that used to be underwater near where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
This NASA image shows Lake Mead water levels on June 16, 2013.
Lake Mead and the surrounding area as captured by NASA on June 16, 2013.
LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: High winds blow dirt into the air near visitors at Boulder Harbor where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


By MORGAN WHITAKER

Dramatic new images taken from space have confirmed a trend scientists and conservationists have been following for years -- the largest reservoir in the United States is shrinking and may reach dangerously low levels in the near future.

The stunning new pictures released by NASA, taken about 13 months apart by the Landsat 8 satellite, show how the water levels on Lake Mead have dropped, revealing more and more dry land.

Lake Mead Still Shrinking
NASA image taken July 21, 2014

Lake Mead Still Shrinking
NASA image taken June 16, 2013

When compared with levels in January 2013, when the lake was above 1122 feet, the staggering drop becomes even more obvious.

Lake Mead Still Shrinking
The water levels on Lake Mead have not dropped below 1078 feet since the Hoover Dam was completed nearly 75 years ago, but scientists expect that might finally happen soon.

Lake Mead is fed primarily by the Colorado River Basin and provides water for roughly 20 million farms, businesses and residents who live in Nevada, Arizona and parts of California, according to CBS News, and since 2000, the lake has lost an estimated 4 trillion gallons of water.

"It's a pretty critical point," Pat Mulroy, who serves as general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, told CBS. "The rate at which our weather patterns are changing is so dramatic that our ability to adapt to it is really crippled."

The potential crisis facing Lake Mead and the broader Colorado River Basin has caught the attention of some celebrities too. Well-known conservationist and Hollywood A-listers Robert Redford and Will Ferrell teamed up earlier this year to try to raise awareness for a project to help revive the river by adding water to it for the Raise the River campaign.




The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expects the water levels at Lake Mead to drop to 1,080 feet in November of this year but don't predict a major crisis yet.

While the agency isn't currently projecting a water shortage in 2015, officials told the New York Times earlier this year there is a 50-50 chance that use of Lake Mead's water will need to be rationed next year.

As NASA points out, the images help show why "something has to change soon in precipitation patterns or water use."

Lake Mead Water Levels Reach New Low
Read Full Story

From Our Partners