Posted on | September 1, 2009 | 3 Comments
THE HOOVER DAM BYPASS bridge joining Nevada and Arizona neared completion over the Colorado River last month. Scheduled to open in 2010, it was recently dedicated as the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge in honor of the former Nevadan Governor and Arizona serviceman. Only the dead know what Mike O’Callaghan, who died in 2004, would make of the honor. The bridge enables yet more Las Vegas sprawl while the former governor and editor of the Las Vegas Sun was a fearless critic of the water policies of Southern Nevadan developers, including those backed by his protege, US Senator Harry Reid.
Behind the dam stretches Lake Mead, whose falling elevations are evinced by the mineral deposits (or, as they are commonly called, the “bathtub ring”) on the canyon walls.
The falling elevations are the product of drought, a 19th-century priority rights system that dumps millions of acre feet of water into farms in the California desert and runaway growth in Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego and Los Angeles. The closing August elevation for Lake Mead was 1,093.73. The lake, the largest reservoir in the country, has dropped 32.94 feet in the last five years.
Year-on-year US Bureau of Reclamation comparisons for August going back to 2004:
DATE ELEVATION OF LAKE MEAD
August 31, 2009: 1,093.73
August 31, 2008: 1,105.13
August 31, 2007: 1,111.84
August 31, 2006: 1,126.54
August 31, 2005: 1,139.61
August 31, 2004: 1,126.67