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Lake Mead water only 31 feet above critical levels

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Updated: 9/06/2013 4:29 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Looking at any recent picture of Lake Mead tells the story of just how low our only source of water is getting. Lake Mead is the nation’s largest manmade reservoir, and our primary source of water in southern Nevada.

It's drying up faster than water managers expected. The lake is capable of storing 26 million acre feet (almost 8.5 trillion gallons) of water. But according to the Bureau of Reclamation, the lake is only 47 percent full today.

Water levels at the lake are 1,106 feet above sea level. Water managers are concerned because we are just 31 feet away from hitting the critical level of 1,075 ft.

More than a decade of drought caused the lake to drop about 100 ft.

In 2000, water levels we were at 1214 ft., but in 2010 we hit a major low. The Water Authority says by then, 11 years of drought caused lake to drop 130 ft. An abundance of snow in the upper Colorado helped increase those numbers in 2011, but after a weak winter in 2012, levels are dropping again.

The head of the water authority says we could potentially drop to 1,075 feet low by early 2015 if changes are not made or if winter does not deliver snow in the upper Colorado. Recent rain has made a tiny dent in those numbers, but the Bureau of Reclamation forecast does not add anything significant for the next week.

The national drought monitor has Southern Nevada at abnormally dry or moderate. The drought is forecasted to persist or intensify.
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