Las Vegas Sun

October 9, 2015

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Lake Mead water level prompts closure of launch ramp


Sam Morris

Near the Hoover Dam, the difference in the color of the rocks shows how high the water level in Lake Mead has been. Drought on the Colorado River has reduced the region’s water reserves.

The Boulder Harbor launch ramp at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area has been closed indefinitely because of falling lake levels, the National Park Service announced Friday.

Park service spokesman Kevin Turner said water in the harbor is expected to drop half a foot in the next month, lowering its depth in the harbor to 3.5 feet. The park service has determined that depth is unsafe for boats and other watercraft to launch, he said.

Lake Mead’s overall elevation is projected to lose 3 feet by the end of October, dropping from 1,085 to 1,082 feet. Gary Warshefski, deputy superintendent at Lake Mead, attributed the water loss to the ongoing drought in the Upper Colorado River Basin, which includes Southern Nevada.

The Department of the Interior estimates the drought began in October 1999.

When full, Warshefski said the lake should be at 1,220 feet.

Turner couldn’t estimate when the launch ramp would reopen, but said the park service is exploring a number of alternative designs to accommodate visitors. Concrete barriers and closure signs will block the ramp until it is deemed safe to use.

Launch ramps at Callville Bay, on the lake's east side; Echo Bay, to the north; and Hemenway Harbor, at the south end, remain open and are recommended as alternate sites for boat launching, Turner said.

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