by Gia Yetikyel/Smithsonianmag.com
Lake Mead hit record-low water levels last week, highlighting the severe drought sweeping through the western United States, report Reuters’ Daniel Trotta and Andrea Januta.
Formed by damming the Colorado River, the body of water is technically a reservoir of the Hoover Dam. As of last week, the reservoir is just 200 feet above “dead pool” level, the point in which water cannot pass through Hoover Dam. A white “bathtub ring” on the lake’s shores marks how much water has retreated over time. At only 36 percent of full capacity, the water level is decreasing at a faster rate than previously projected, reports Ian James for Arizona Republic.
Constructed in 1937, Lake Mead is one of the largest human-made lakes in the world, covering up to 248 square miles when full, reports Matthew Cappucci for the Washington Post. The reservoir is considered at full capacity when water rises to 1,219.6 feet above sea level, but it’s able to hold a maximum of 1,229 feet of water. In 1983, the lake reached its highest recorded water level at 1,225 feet.