12 photos that show the drought’s impact on the American West

The Glen Canyon Dam was built on the Colorado River to create Lake Powell near Page, Ariz. Lake Powell water levels have dropped to record lows since the dam’s completion in the 1960’s. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The Glen Canyon Dam was built on the Colorado River to create Lake Powell near Page, Ariz. Lake Powell water levels have dropped to record lows since the dam’s completion in the 1960’s. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted September 15, 2021 at 6:00am

The federal government declared the first-ever water shortage last month for the Colorado River, with the limited water supplies affecting agricultural operations and wildlife populations.

CQ Roll Call's photo editor headed West to report on how southern Nevada and bordering states are faring as drought conditions worsen.

Staff writer Joseph Morton examined how Congress is responding to the issue. Here's our accompanying photo report:

Perry Kaye, a water waste investigator with the Las Vegas Valley Water District, approaches a faulty lawn sprinkler in Summerlin, Nev., on Aug. 26. Southern Nevada residents rely on the Colorado River for nearly all their municipal water supply and have tried to mitigate the situation through conservation. That includes investigators on the lookout for water waste. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A buoy at the Boulder Harbor launch ramp now sits on dry land due to low water levels at Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nev. Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, fell to 35% of its capacity earlier this summer. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A traffic sign warns of low water levels at Lake Mead. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A sign alerts boaters of the closure of the Boulder Harbor launch ramp due to low water levels at Lake Mead. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The bath tub ring around Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam in Boulder City, Nev., shows how the water level has dropped at the nation's largest reservoir. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The bath tub ring around Lake Mead is seen from the Hoover Dam. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A boater paddles his catamaran on waters of Lake Havasu, fed by the Colorado River, at the Rotary Community Park in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A tractor kicks up dust as it works a field near Blythe, Calif., on Aug. 24. Farmers from California to central Arizona wonder about the future of their operations if conditions remain dry and their share of river water continues to be curtailed. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The Colorado River winds through Horseshoe Bend in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Page, Ariz., at sunset on Aug. 25. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The Glen Canyon Dam was built in the 1960s on the Colorado River to create Lake Powell, where water levels have now dropped to record lows. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A jet skier glides along Lake Powell. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)