LATimes] Bruce Nelson was just a baby when Lake Mead was at its mightiest.
was 1983 — ancient history to the 32-year-old whose family has run
marinas here for three generations — when the lake gushed over Hoover
Dam like a desert Niagara Falls.
But that was then. Now, the West
remains mired in a lingering drought that has sapped the lake level to
its lowest point since Mead was created in the 1930s.
The drop has
threatened water supplies for the entire Southwest, prompting officials
to consider rationing. In September, the third and deepest intake pipe
into the lake will be opened to ensure that Las Vegas-area consumers
have water no matter how far Mead falls.
But Nelson says those already penning Lake Mead's obituary are a bit premature.
Tourism here is rebounding and the drought has brought an odd bonus:
As waters recede, the lake has given up long-submerged secrets — a ghost
town and B-29 bomber among them, history slowly revealed with the
gentle care of an archaeologist's brush.
On a recent Friday,
Nelson shuts off the engine of his Yamaha pleasure boat and floats in
the aqua-green waters just off the dam wall. On either side of him, the
rock face soars toward impossibly blue summer skies. Nelson's family
opened their first marina here in 1957, and he grew up on this lake. His
childhood playground now supports his livelihood.
"It's just so
unfair to say this lake is disappearing," he says. "The lake is what it
is. Do we prefer more water? Sure. But even with less water, this is
still one big, big lake."
Nelson has stopped in a place called Black Canyon, though its walls now bear the black-white contrast of a piano keyboard.
chalk-colored stone closest to the waterline, covered with residue from
the retreating waters, is a measuring stick of just how far the lake
level has fallen — from 1,226 feet to 1,075 feet in just 17 years, with
most of that in the last few years. Read More