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July 31, 2014

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Lake Mead water level prompts closure of launch ramp

Image

Sam Morris

Near the Hoover Dam, the difference in the color of the rocks shows how high the water level in Lake Mead has been. Drought on the Colorado River has reduced the region’s water reserves.

The Boulder Harbor launch ramp at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area has been closed indefinitely because of falling lake levels, the National Park Service announced Friday.

Park service spokesman Kevin Turner said water in the harbor is expected to drop half a foot in the next month, lowering its depth in the harbor to 3.5 feet. The park service has determined that depth is unsafe for boats and other watercraft to launch, he said.

Lake Mead’s overall elevation is projected to lose 3 feet by the end of October, dropping from 1,085 to 1,082 feet. Gary Warshefski, deputy superintendent at Lake Mead, attributed the water loss to the ongoing drought in the Upper Colorado River Basin, which includes Southern Nevada.

The Department of the Interior estimates the drought began in October 1999.

When full, Warshefski said the lake should be at 1,220 feet.

Turner couldn’t estimate when the launch ramp would reopen, but said the park service is exploring a number of alternative designs to accommodate visitors. Concrete barriers and closure signs will block the ramp until it is deemed safe to use.

Launch ramps at Callville Bay, on the lake's east side; Echo Bay, to the north; and Hemenway Harbor, at the south end, remain open and are recommended as alternate sites for boat launching, Turner said.

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  1. Just steal the water from another state, no big deal, everyones doing it.

  2. building moritoriums are a not a good idea (and greedy in and of themselves). What you need is to end water subsidies.

  3. The economy as it is now makes this the right to sort this out. The water rights, water molecule problems here in the west is a mess. We need to get water rights in alignment with the volumes of water actually available in the Colorado River Basin.

    No water means means no mortgages for homes. A whole new way to be underwater.

  4. @TwoCents:

    You seem to be on top of this. My understanding is that the Southern Nevada Water Authority controls a great deal of water in Lincoln and White Pine Counties (the cattle and alfalfa). The plan is to pipe ground water down to Vegas on a very expensive pipeline. Perhaps you can tell us about this if you know more.

    PS. Jesus--almost all of the power generated at Hoover Dam is shipped to Arizona and Southern California.

  5. @vc: why not blame them. Harry takes credit for creating jobs but when they disappear so does he.

    Oh, Harry, Where art thou?