Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US by volume, is at 35% of its capacity, its lowest level since its creation in the 1930s, according to the latest data from the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).
This lake, some 48 kilometres southeast of Las Vegas (Nevada, USA), between the states of Nevada and Arizona, is located on the Colorado River.
The US government declared on Monday that the Colorado River is experiencing water shortages for the first time in its history, which will lead to mandatory water cuts for some southeastern states.
In fact, according to the US National Park Service, Lake Mead provides water to approximately 25 million people in Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico.
Lake Powell, which is also fed by the Colorado River and is the second largest reservoir in the country, recently hit an all-time low, dropping to 32 per cent of its full capacity.
“Given the ongoing historic drought and low runoff conditions in the Colorado River Basin, water releases from Glen Canyon and Hoover dams will be reduced in 2022 due to declining reservoir levels,” the USBR said in its latest report.
On a state-by-state basis, Arizona will see an 18% reduction in total water supply from Lake Mead as of 1 January 2022, a move that will primarily affect agriculture in that southern region.
Nevada will see its water consumption cut by 7 %, although the state government has already taken steps in this direction in the past.
California will not see immediate cuts in water consumption.
Neighbouring Mexico, on the other hand, will reduce its water consumption from Lake Mead by 5 %.
The western US suffered a historic heat wave earlier this summer in the middle of a drought with temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius that left hundreds of people dead in Canada and the US mainland.