LAS VEGAS — For Western states enduring a debilitating drought, the news is bone-dry bad: Anemic Lake Mead has hit a historic low level.
The surface of the sprawling reservoir outside Las Vegas late Tuesday fell to 1,079.76 feet above sea level — nearly 140 feet below capacity — as the prolonged drought continues to evaporate the beleaguered Colorado River system.
For California, Arizona and Nevada, which draw water from Mead, a grim situation is about to get worse: Officials estimate that Mead will drop to the unprecedented low elevation of 1,073 feet as the hottest summer months bear down.
"We're only at 38 percent full. Lake Mead hasn't been this low since we were filling it in the 1930s," said Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Las Vegas. "All the way around, this is bad news."