In case you missed it: The terrifying evaporating mud puddle that was once Lake Mead outside of Las Vegas is a flashing warning sign – long coming and mostly ignored – that the human relationship to water in the American Southwest has got to change, pretty much immediately.
Lake Mead is fed by the Colorado River, a water source for 40 million people. And with shrinking snowpack in the Rockies, the water levels in the river are dropping. Same with Lake Mead, a major water source for California, Arizona and Nevada.
“The lake is ebbing as though a plug has been pulled from a bathtub drain; its shoreline forming a soap ring around its edges, a ring that will only grow in the dry summer months. The water is already so low that boat launch ramps need to be extended to reach the water. ‘It’s a surreal landscape out there,’” reports the LA Times.
Californians are panicked. Arizona is in deep trouble and, given recent snowpack levels, Vegas is basically doomed.
Some water watchdogs in Colorado are getting jittery, too. Colorado relies heavily on water from the river that shares its name. Colorado and other upper basin states are required to deliver a certain amount of water to the lower basin each year to keep reservoirs at levels required under federal compacts.
If supplies keep waning, water users (all of us) in states across the region will feel the pain.
Photo Credit: IAmSanjeevan, Creative Commons, Flickr.