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  Geotimes - May 2008 - Lake Mead going dry

Lake Mead going dry

Lake Mead
Copyright Lynn Betts, NRCS
Lake Mead formed behind Hoover Dam.

If climate change and water usage continue unchecked, Lake Mead — which supplies water to millions of people in the Desert Southwest, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego — has at least a 50 percent chance of drying up by 2021. Tim Barnett and David Pierce, both with Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., suggest that unfettered human demand, natural forces like evaporation, and human-induced climate change are creating a net deficit of about 1.2 cubic kilometers of water per year from the Colorado River system, which includes Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Water levels could drop below what are needed for hydroelectric generation even sooner, Barnett and Pierce wrote in Water Resources Research March 29.

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