Lake Mead, a National Recreation Area that spans Nevada and Arizona, is currently shrinking due to the ongoing drought in the west. As its shoreline disappears, contents from the bottom of the lake are making themselves known — including the decomposing body of a homicide victim stuffed in a barrel.
Lake Mead and the Colorado River are responsible for most of southern Nevada’s drinking water and the lake is also a key component in Arizona’s renewable water projects. As the drought has persisted, Lake Mead’s water level has dropped to its lowest point since it was first filled almost 90 years ago. The uppermost intake for providing water is now above the waterline and the Southern Nevada Water Authority has activated the lower intake to maintain supply to Las Vegas.
On Sunday, authorities found human remains inside of a barrel at the edge of Lake Mead’s shore, which is now only 30 percent full. Found by boaters on the Colorado River near Las Vegas, this barrel used to sit at the bottom of the lake, but was exposed as the lake has dried up. The victim was likely murdered in the 1980s and deposited at this site where the barrel would have been dozens of feet underwater. Authorities expect more bodies may appear as the lake continues to dry up due to warm temperatures and sparse rainfall continue.
Lake Mead is not the only place where items are being recovered as the mega-drought continues through the western region of the United States. Last year, a fishing boat discovered a shipwreck in Utah’s Lake Powell and the remnants of a 1986 plane crash were found in California’s Folsom Lake.