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Projecting river and lake levels is difficult due to climate change

Projecting river and lake levels is difficult due to climate change

NEVADA A white line is known as the bathtub ring, and it surrounds Lake Mead.

It’s a constant reminder of Bruce Nelson, Boating Lake Mead Director of Operations.

The lake is located at a historic low 1,067 feet above sea level, which has adverse effects on boat launch ramps as well as customers.


What you need to know

  • The Colorado River was the first to experience a water shortage. This will have an impact on water supplies in 2022.
  • Nevada’s Lake Mead has a record low of 1,065 feet above the sea level
  • Lake Mead’s critical point would be 950 feet above sealevel
  • Lower basin states agreed to bring water back into Lake Mead after the drop in levels. The 500+ Plan, also known as the 500+ Agreement, aims at adding 500,000 acre-feet more water to Lake Mead in 2022 and/or 2023

Nelson stated that “now, they’re down one or two lanes, and you might need to wait awhile and that’s problematic to boaters trying get out and enjoy themselves, or get off the lake to go home.”

Nelson’s grandparents founded the family-run marina in 1957.

However, the launch ramps were not designed to handle the current water level.

Boaters can now wait up three hours to get in and out of the water.

The National Park Service extends launch ramps, but Nelson must continue moving the marina when the water levels drop.

It is a large investment of time and money.

Nelson stated, “We need to add power, sewer, water, and stations to make the marina work.”

The nation’s largest reservoir supplies drinking water for 25 million people.

However, decades of drought have led to record-low levels. The Bureau of Reclamation declared its first ever water shortage for 2022.

This, along with a state water scarcity leaving water districts without the supplies they need, reflects California’s dire drought conditions.

Patti Aaron, Lower Colorado Basin Region Public Affairs Officer, said that climate change is only exacerbated by the West’s water problems.

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Aaron stated that although temperatures are higher than expected and the soil moisture is very low in the Upper Basins, they are also faster than expected.

This means snowmelt seeps in to the parched soil and not runs off into the Colorado River or Lake Mead.

California, Nevada, Arizona and California were the lower basin states that came up with a plan to make Lake Mead more water-friendly in December.

Aaron stated that collaboration is the key to success. “The Colorado River provides the lifeblood of Southwest and everyone is working towards finding a solution, not fighting.”

Climate change is creating uncertainty. It is becoming harder to predict snowfall and how Lake Mead will look in the future.

Nelson stated that to preserve this water supply for future generations, it was up to all states that depend on the Colorado River and other states to conserve it.

“It would be nice if there were the same regulations in Las Vegas as in Las Vegas. These regulations include how often you water your lawn, how many you can have, buying back grass and putting in desert landscaping. It would be great to see this happen in other states, too.

He said that he hopes water consciousness can be sufficient to prevent the lake’s level falling further, risking additional water cuts and exposing more bathtub rings, an unavoidable fact that the West is drying out.

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