“Lake Mead will most likely hit elevation 1,071.61 (feet) on Thursday, June 10. That will match the previous lowest elevation on record since the 1930s,” Aaron said.
While the lake’s water level is expected to reach a new low this week, it won’t be the bottom. “We anticipate the elevation of Lake Mead to continue to decline until November 2021,” Aaron said.
“Some years are better than others and not in all places at all times, but the region has never fully recovered with enough rainfall and snowfall to erase the deficit,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
Miller described the drought as a “vicious cycle” in which dry land leads to less evaporation, which leads to fewer clouds and more sun, which equals more heat and evaporation.
“Every foot of lake level decline means about 6 (megawatt) of lost capacity,” Aaron said.
With no relief in sight, officials are planning for another unprecedented declaration in August, which is when operating conditions are set for the following year. It’s likely a Level 1 Shortage Condition will be declared for 2022 for Lake Mead, Aaron said, meaning surrounding states will have to implement water-saving measures.
Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke said the planned drop in water coming from Lake Mead next year will be “painful,” but the department is already working on contingency plans.
“While we may have less water coming to Arizona from the Colorado River in 2022, Arizona’s water managers and suppliers have been taking measures to prepare and will continue to work to ensure the river remains stable for generations to come,” Buschatzke said.
CNN has reached out to the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources about its planning for future water needs.