Postcard: Lake Mead

The massive man-made reservoir supplies 90% of Las Vegas' water--and it's drying up. The growing Southwest tries to do more while drinking less

Ethan Miller / Getty

A prolonged drought-and increasing demand-has left Lake Mead well below capacity.

There is no shortage of ways to see just how short of water Lake Mead is. You can count the white bathtub rings of mineral deposits on the bedrock walls of the sprawling, 250-sq.-mi. (647 sq km) reservoir, indicating the old high-water mark--now left nakedly exposed 100 ft. up. You can look at the docks that have been moved repeatedly, chasing the receding lake. Or you can simply read a line graph at the reservoir's visitor center, which tracks the water elevation of Lake Mead since it was created by the construction of the Hoover Dam in 1935. After years of...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!