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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Back from the depths: shrinking Lake Mead reveals second world war-era boat | US news

A sunken boat dating back to the second world war is the latest object to emerge from a shrinking reservoir that straddles Nevada and Arizona.

The Higgins landing craft that has long been 185ft (56 meters) below the surface is now nearly halfway out of the water at Lake Mead.

The boat lies less than a mile from Lake Mead Marina and Hemingway Harbor.

It was used to survey the Colorado River decades ago, was sold to the marina and then sunk, according to dive tours company Las Vegas Scuba.

Higgins Industries in New Orleans built several thousand landing craft between 1942 and 1945, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Around 1,500 “Higgins boats” were deployed at Normandy on 6 June 1944, known as D-Day.

The boat is just the latest in a series of objects unearthed by declining water levels in Lake Mead, the largest human-made reservoir in the US, held back by the Hoover Dam. In May, two sets of human remains were found in the span of a week.

Experts say climate change and drought have led to the lake dropping to its lowest level since it was full about 20 years ago.

The boat was used to survey the Colorado River decades ago and is now coming to surface due to receding lake water.
The boat was used to survey the Colorado River decades ago and is now coming to surface due to receding lake water. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

As water levels drop at both Lake Mead and Lake Powell upstream on the Arizona-Utah line, states in the US west increasingly face deeper cuts to their supply from the Colorado River. The lower levels also impact hydropower produced at Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam, which holds back Lake Powell.

Camille Touton, the US Bureau of Reclamation commissioner said last month that the agency would take action to protect the system if the seven states in the Colorado River basin do not quickly come up with a way to cut the use of up to 4m acre-feet of water – more than Arizona and Nevada’s share combined.

An acre-foot is about 325,850 gallons (about 1.23m liters). An average household uses one-half to one acre-foot of water a year.

The two states, California and New Mexico have already enacted voluntary and mandatory cuts. Water from some reservoirs in the upper basin – Wyoming, Colorado and Utah – has been released to prop up Lake Powell. Farmers use a majority of the river’s supply.

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