Las Vegas Sun

July 21, 2019

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In last year, Lake Mead dropped below 10 million acre feet for first time

Western Water Looming Shortage

Julie Jacobson / AP

In this April 16, 2013, file photo, the high water mark for Lake Mead is seen on Hoover Dam and its spillway near Boulder City.

The ongoing drought continues to take a toll on the main supply of water for Las Vegas.

For the first time since the 1930s, Lake Mead ended the "water year" below 10 million acre feet of storage, according to John Fleck, a writer in residence at the University of New Mexico's Water Resources Program.

Fleck, who's writing a book about the Colorado River, discovered the milestone after compiling data from the Bureau of Reclamation, he said. A "water year" runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 and is the calendar used by water managers.

The elevation at midnight Sept. 30 was 1,078 feet above sea level at the Colorado River reservoir, which holds water for multiple states. That translates to 9.854 million acre feet in storage, down from 10.121 million acre feet a year ago. Fleck said the drop was more of a symbolic milestone and not necessarily a reason to "freak out."

"There are steps being taken to slow the drop, but it obviously hasn't been enough," he said. "It's good to keep reminders out there."

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