Third set of human remains recovered at shrinking Lake Mead, park says

A third set of human remains was recovered from Lake Mead on Monday, thanks to a drought that has pushed the water level at the largest reservoir in the United States to an unprecedented low.

National Park Service rangers responded to a report of human remains discovered around 4:30 p.m. at Swim Beach at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the agency said in a news release. 

The medical examiner’s office in Clark County, Nev., is expected to determine the cause of death, according to the Park Service. No details have been publicly released regarding the identity of the victim or when the person might have died.

“Park rangers are on scene and have set a perimeter to recover the remains,” the agency said.

It’s at least the third time human remains have been recovered from Lake Mead in recent months, following two discoveries less than a week apart in May.

The water levels at Lake Mead are the lowest they’ve been since the reservoir near Las Vegas was filled for the first time in April 1937 as Hoover Dam, then called Boulder Dam, harnessed the Colorado River, according to NASA.

Satellite images released by NASA last week show how the reservoir on the Nevada-Arizona border, which is now 27 percent full, is nearly unrecognizable, compared with how it looked in the past two decades.

The reservoir is at top capacity when water levels reach 1,229 feet above sea level, but it is considered full at 1,219.6 feet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The reservoir last hit that top capacity in 1999, according to NASA.

In the West, the summer’s hot and dry weather has fueled drought and fire in all parts of the region. The effects of climate change were apparent last week as a stretch of the Rio Grande near Albuquerque that supplies farmers with water and habitat for an array of aquatic life is drying up.