Lake Mead, a Lifeline for Water in Los Angeles and the West, Tips Toward Crisis

Eric Richins looked out from his pontoon boat to the shallows on the lake’s western edge. He squinted and paused as if he had come upon a foreign shore. For the first time in a career navigating the waters of the American West, he didn’t know where he was.

“I could have sworn I was here just six weeks ago catching smallmouth and bigmouth bass,” said the 35-year-old fisherman who runs tours on this 247-square-mile basin where the Colorado River meets the Hoover Dam to form the nation’s largest reservoir.

He pointed ahead to what looked like dozens of tiny steps made from successive layers of dried mud now covered in tall grass and weeds — the effect of rapidly creeping vegetation over a shoreline that has been dropping by nearly a foot a week.

“Now it looks like a lawn. I knew the drought was bad. I didn’t realize it was this bad,” he said. “This place is unrecognizable.”

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Source: Jaweed Kaleem, Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times