Lakes Mead and Mohave, which are the centerpieces of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, provide many significant benefits that have made the modern development of the Southwestern United States possible. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir by volume in the nation and it supplies critical storage of water supplies for more than 25 million people in three Western States (California, Arizona, and Nevada). Storage within Lake Mead supplies drinking water and the hydropower to provide electricity for major cities including Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Tucson, and San Diego, and irrigation of more than 2.5 million acres of croplands. Lake Mead is arguably the most important reservoir in the nation because of its size and the services it delivers to the Western United States.
This Circular includes seven chapters. Chapter 1 provides a short summary of the overall findings and management implications for Lakes Mead and Mohave that can be used to guide the reader through the rest of the Circular. Chapter 2 introduces the environmental setting and characteristics of Lakes Mead and Mohave and provides a brief management context of the lakes within the Colorado River system as well as overviews of the geological bedrock and sediment accumulations of the lakes. Chapter 3 contains summaries of the operational and hydrologic characteristics of Lakes Mead and Mohave. Chapter 4 provides information on water quality, including discussion on the monitoring of contaminants and sediments within the reservoirs. Chapter 5 describes aquatic biota and wildlife, including food-web dynamics, plankton, invertebrates, fish, aquatic birds, and aquatic vegetation. Chapter 6 outlines threats and stressors to the health of Lake Mead aquatic ecosystems that include a range of environmental contaminants, invasive species, and climate change. Chapter 7 provides a more detailed summary of overall findings that are presented in Chapter 1; and it contains a more detailed discussion on associated management implications, additional research, and monitoring needs.