On Saturday afternoon, National Park Service rangers found more human body remains at Lake Mead. This comes less than a week after other remains were discovered in a barrel at the reservoir located on the borders of Nevada and Arizona. The remains were exposed after the water levels at the reservoir dropped significantly.
The first body was found on May 1, raising an alarm among locals. According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the murder could have happened between the 1970s and 1980s based on how the victim was dressed. The officials also say that the victim was likely killed by a gunshot. The second body is yet to undergo forensic analysis, but more information is expected to be released later.
The exposed bodies have been at the belly of the lake for years, only getting noticed due to dropping water levels. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Homicide Lieutenant Ray Spencer told reporters that there are chances that more bodies will be found within the lake with water levels continuing to drop.
“The lake has drained dramatically over the last 15 years,” Spencer said. “It’s likely that we will find additional bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead as the water level drops more.”
The water level drop in the reservoir over the past two decades has been fueled by climate change and other local factors. For a reservoir that supplies water for over 40 million people, both the bodies and the drop in water levels are cause for alarm.
Lake Mead’s water level was at around 1,050 feet above sea level on Monday, the lowest since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. With the water standing 162 feet below 2000 feet, the highest level ever recorded, officials are concerned over water shortages.
Upstream at Lake Powell, officials announced measures to help keep more water in the reservoir. The emergency measures will preserve the Glen Canyon Dam’s power generation. These measures would only mean a further drop in water levels at Lake Mead, which could lead to the exposure of other dead bodies.
“We have never taken this step before, but the potential risk on the horizon demands prompt action,” Assistant Secretary of Water and Science Tanya Trujillo told reporters last week. “We need to work together to stabilize the reservoir before we face a larger crisis.”
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