Lake Mead is located on the Colorado River in the states of Nevada and Arizona. Formed by Hoover Dam at the southwest point of the lake, the reservoir is the largest in the United States in maximum water capacity and provides water to millions of residents in the area, including Las Vegas. Hoover Dam provides power for utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California, and is a major tourist attraction with nearly a million people visiting each year.
The lake draws a majority of its water from snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains. Since 2000, the water level has been steadily dropping due to less than average snowfall, high levels of evaporation, increased water usage, and recent extensive drought conditions over the western United States. These factors continue to pressure water management resources. The population that depends on the lake for water and on Hoover Dam for electricity continues to grow.
These Landsat 8 images show the differences in the lake from March 24 to July 2, 2013. The inset images give a closer view of the receding water within these 100 days. Recent predictions by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation indicate that by 2016, the lake will be at a critical level that will require further water restrictions and affect the electricity operations of Hoover Dam.