On the heels of an exceptionally wet winter and a rare West Coast hurricane, the water level at Lake Mead has climbed to its highest point in more than a year. Although the year of precipitation does not reverse years of prolonged drought across the Southwest United States, it has improved the short-term outlook for the Lower Basin states that rely on the Colorado River after they had faced another round of water cuts as 2023 began.

After Hurricane Hilary moved through the region in August, the Lake Mead water level rose to 1,063 feet above sea level, the highest summertime elevation since 2021. Before the hurricane arrived, Nevada received positive news when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Colorado River, announced that it would ease water-use cuts for Nevada, Arizona and Mexico due to strong winter snowmelt that raised the lake level by about 20 feet since January.

Lake Mead provides 90 percent of the water used in Southern Nevada. The Silver State receives the smallest allotment of water among the seven Colorado River basin states, but it has relied on its ability to recycle water back to Lake Mead and implement aggressive conservation measures to support one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation.

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