12 April 2023
Climate change has led to hotter, drier conditions in Nevada that have accelerated the depletion of Lake Mead.
Lake Mead is an artificial lake created by the Hoover Dam. Its water source is the Colorado River, which itself is supplied by snowmelt from the Colorado Rockies.
Heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities have warmed the planet. The resulting temperature increases and changing precipitation patterns in the Southwest have reduced snowpack and rain and dried out soils, contributing to lower water levels at Lake Mead and other waterbodies.
Nevada’s long-standing drought, fueled by climate change, coupled with overuse, threaten to deplete Lake Mead to “dead pool” levels in the coming years, where water would no longer flow past Hoover Dam, making it unfunctional for irrigation and electricity generation.
Winter storms temporarily replenished Lake Mead in recent months, but the lake is projected to reach a record low by the end of the month.
This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
National Park Service Lake Mead National Recreation Area Action Plan
Los Angeles Times California water agencies brace for Colorado River cuts
Newsweek Why Was the Hoover Dam Built?
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