Water levels at Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, have plummeted, according to police, and remains in barrels were discovered over the weekend. The Colorado River irrigates crops, provides electricity to the system, and supplies drinking water to 40 million people. With his supply dwindling, a crisis arises.
The barrel was discovered Sunday afternoon by a man who was spending time by the lake and was able to view the wreckage within the barrel, according to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Homicide Lieutenant Ray Spencer.
Investigators believe the person was likely a murder victim who died from a gunshot wound, Spencer said at a press conference on Tuesday.
An inquiry is ongoing, according to the press statement, and is “based on the findings of the probe.”
“The lake’s water levels have plummeted considerably over the last 15 years,” Spencer previously stated, adding that “if the water levels continue to decline, we’ll undoubtedly uncover more remains thrown in Lake Mead.”
The lake was roughly 1,054 feet above sea level on Monday, about 160 feet lower than when it was last considered full in 2000. Since the reservoir’s impoundment in the 1930s, this is the lowest water level ever recorded, The federal government reported an unprecedented water scarcity in the Colorado River, which feeds the reservoir, in August, pushing southwestern states to reduce water use beginning in January.
The lake’s low water levels also exposed an existing inlet valve in the reservoir for the first time last week. Upstream of the Colorado River, water levels at Lake Powell, the country’s second-largest reservoir, have also dropped, recently falling below a threshold, threatening not only water supplies downstream, but hydroelectric power in surrounding communities.
This year’s extreme drought in the West has taken its toll, with about 91 percent of the region experiencing some degree of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Extreme and unusual drought, two of the worst names, spread to New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado—all states in the Colorado River Basin.