In the 15 years since Adam Dailey began sailing on Lake Mead, the coast has dropped by hundreds of feet, resulting in more than two decades of severe drought in the western United States.
The launch sites on the shoreline, just outside Las Vegas, have been abandoned, and one ramp is now the only way to get a boat on the water.
“We used to have something. So everyone strives to use one ramp … and you’re still trying to figure out how to get along,” Dailey said.
“It’s sad, what’s going on. But we’re still going out and trying to enjoy it if we can.”
Lake Mead is the largest lake in the United States, the largest body of artificial water formed during the construction of the Hoover Dam in the early 1930s.
Its 247-square-mile (640-square-mile) area holds tens of millions of water and countless hectares of farmland in the southwest.
But it is declining at an alarming rate and now stands at just one-quarter of its fullness.
The National Park Service (NPS), which controls access to the lake, has spent more than $ 40 million since 2010 trying to keep the water open for boaters.
It costs them $ 2-3 million to repair a boat launch ramp every time the water levels drop by another four feet (120 inches).
“Water shortages due to climate change and 20 years of ongoing drought have rebuilt the park’s coastline,” the NPS said on its website.
“As Lake Mead continues to decline, the expansion of start-up routes becomes more difficult and costly due to the local environment and the perceived decline in water levels.”
The bathtub ring
A series of NPS signs show the coast in various places since 2001. The mark that marks the level by 2021 is 300 steps from the water.
In the mud, rotten water leaves bottles, cans, fire extinguishers, and other objects that have fallen into the water in some way over the years.
Rocks forming solid edges of the dam clearly show how much water has fallen.
A white set of mineral rocks pollutes the mountains like a ring in a bathtub, indicating where the water level rose after the 1983 floods.