The Colorado River, the lifeblood water supply of San Diego and the Southwest, made history late last year. And it wasn’t good.
Lake Mead, the reservoir holding the Colorado River back behind the Hoover Dam outside Las Vegas, hit its lowest point since being filled in the 1930s. Had it dropped just a few more feet, federal officials would’ve declared the first shortage in the river’s modern history. Arizona and Las Vegas would’ve gotten less water.
Fortunately, the lake’s decline stopped. Officials began a massive transfer of water from Lake Powell, the river’s other major reservoir, on the Utah-Arizona border. Along with a wet winter in the Colorado Rockies, that staved off what was once unthinkable. The Colorado River wasn’t supposed to come up short.