Californians Take the Colorado River

Pipeline runs through a desert wash in southern California.

By Michelle Caldera

In an attempt to help Southern California through its drought crisis, an agreement has been made with the state of Nevada to lease water that is retained from the Colorado River to the basin of Lake Mead. Water levels have decreased more than 50 ft., leaving a rim of weathering along the mountains and shoreline surrounding the lake.

The Hoover Dam, which services nearby states for their drinking water, also shows signs of lower water levels. Water levels are controlled at the dam and are released based on sufficient amounts of water retained after the winter season.

View of the Hoover Dam's towers over the Colorado River

The wall of the Hoover Dam

Because of climate changes, Colorado has not experienced typical snowfall, causing less water to precipitate down the river. Water levels are now at a near emergency state.

Temple Basin, one of the shores of Lake Mead, has experienced low water levels since the 1980s. Jimmie, a maintenance worker for the dock at Temple Basin, remembers how water levels slowly decreased over the years, and he now uses cinder stabilizers to control the boat docks.

Connie Bosley, a local resident of Bullhead City, was unaware of the drastic low levels of water along the river. 

“For many in Golden Valley, [a city further away from the river] water must be hauled to their houses...and are forced to conserve based on their location," she said.

Joanne Brothers, another local resident, was surprised and saddened by her recent visit to Lake Mead.

“Californians are so wasteful! Southern California needs to realize that they are a desert, just like us, and need to convert from grass to gravel just like many of us out here." 

She now uses desalination plants, as well as other basic conservation measures to sustain the availability of water. She also uses the local car wash station that reuses the water from vehicles washed in their system.

So far, tourist attractions like Katherine’s Landing and the casinos off Casino Drive in Laughlin have not been affected enough to discourage tourists and visitors from coming. Kay, a cashier worker for the car museum gift shop, believes “with global warming and other drastic climate changes, we need to work together during these hard times."

As local residents of Southern California, we should be aware of how drastic the current drought conditions are and how it affects nearby states.