Hoover Dam reservoir reaches record-low water levels

An aerial view of the Hoover Dam in 2009.
(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Western U.S. continues to suffer from a severe drought.

Water levels in Lake Mead, the vital reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam, reached a new record low this week as the Western U.S. continues to suffer from a severe drought, according to news reports.

On Wednesday (June 9), the reservoir’s levels dropped to 1,071.56 feet (326 meters) above sea level — slightly lower than the previous record low of 1,074.6 feet (327 meters) set in 2016, according to Reuters. Overall, the reservoir has fallen 140 feet (43 m) in the past 21 years, Reuters reported.

Engineers created Lake Mead in the 1930s by building the Hoover Dam in the Colorado River at the Arizona-Nevada border. It is the largest reservoir in the United States, containing some 9 trillion gallons (34 trillion liters) of water, which gets allocated to about 25 million people living in the Southwest, including those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas, Reuters reported.

The Southwestern U.S. has been in a nearly continuous drought for the past two decades, with rainfall and snowfall too low to allow the region to fully recover from the drought, according to CNN.

Related: Why the Southwest keeps seeing droughts

Climate change is clearly playing a role,” in the prolonged drought, Brandon Miller, a meteorologist for CNN, told the news outlet. “The warmer temperatures are driving that vicious cycle [of drought] and making it harder for normal or even above-average rainfall years to make a dent,” Miller said. “When one or two below-average rainfall/snowfall years occur, as we have just seen, the results are disastrous.”

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