California's prolonged drought has gotten a lot of attention recently, but there's a bigger water shortage problem in the West. Stunning new photos of the Colorado River Basin's drought show how extreme the decreasing water levels are in the river's reservoirs, as the drought reaches its 15th year. Flowing from the Rocky Mountains down through Arizona, the river provides water for more than 33 million people in seven states and northern Mexico, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
The river's water has been quickly disappearing since 2000. The Lake Mead reservoir has seen water levels drop more than 100 feet in the last 15 years, according to the National Climate Data Center, and is now at its lowest level since it was filled in 1930s. The river supports a quarter million jobs generates more than $26 billion each year from recreation activities alone, according to the EDF, but all of could disappear along with the water if the river runs dry.
Lake Powell, 180 miles east of Lake Mead and one of the nation's largest reservoirs, is below 45 percent of its capacity, reports The Washington Post. The man-made reservoir now sports very visible rings a story high, highlighting how severely water levels have dropped. Empty docks now sit far back on the beach and greenery has started to sprout up in dry areas that used to be deep underwater.
Photographer Justin Sullivan recently documented the dire situation at Lake Powell, taking beautiful, but disheartening photos of the low water levels. Here's a look at the drought's impact on the Colorado River Basin.
Images: Getty Images(12)