Lake Mead Reservoir is Shrinking - Water Rationing for Southwest U.S. on the Horizon

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The Arizona Republic reports that Lake Mead, the resevoir created by the Hoover Dam that provides water to Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico has reached a low point;

Lake Mead sank to its lowest level in nearly 75 years on Sunday, a stark reminder of how drought and growing water demands have sapped the Colorado River and its huge reservoirs.

Not since it was first filling in 1937 has Lake Mead held so little water. The reservoir's level fell to the historic low shortly before noon on Sunday, eclipsing a previous record from the drought-stricken 1950s.

The lake is now just 8 feet above the level that would trigger the first drought restrictions, which would reduce water supplies for Arizona and Nevada. That gap could close by next year - the reservoir fell 10 feet from October 2009 to 2010 - but there are measures in place that would likely delay rationing for one or two years or even longer if a wet winter increased runoff into the river.

Most homes and businesses in Arizona likely would not feel the direct effects of the restrictions, which would divert water first from farmers.

There is a plan to divert water from Lake Powell to keep the levels higher but the pics after the fold show that Lake Powell is also effected by drought.

1999

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2005

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2010
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