Lake Mead, Nevada, July 29, 2007—
You can lead them away from water, but you can't make them not drink.
That's the problem at North America's largest artificial reservoir, Lake Mead, where the combination of a seven-year drought and explosive population growth have sent water levels plummeting by a hundred feet (30 meters)—their lowest levels since the 1960s.
At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, for instance, a barren landscape has replaced a harbor that once attracted campers and boaters.
The lake—formed on the Colorado River by the Hoover Dam— supplies water to parts of Nevada, Arizona, and southern California.
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Photograph by Ethan Miller/Getty Images