Park rangers responded at about 4:30 p.m. PT to a report of human remains found in the Swim Beach area of the park in Boulder City, Nevada. “Park rangers are on site and have established a perimeter to recover the remains,” the release said.
The Clark County medical examiner is helping determine the cause of death, the park service said.
This is at least the third body found in the Lake Mead area, as the country’s largest reservoir has shrunk to unprecedented heights.
The first body, discovered on May 1, was found in a barrel and was likely a murder victim who died of a gunshot wound “sometime in the mid-1970s to early 1980s, based on clothing and footwear that the victim was found,” according to a press release from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.
Another set of remains were found on May 7 in the Callville Bay area of the park.
The receding waters also uncovered previously sunken boats last month, including a World War II landing craft.
About 40 million people in the west depend on water from the Colorado River and its two largest reservoirs — Lake Mead and Lake Powell — where levels have fallen at an alarming rate in recent years amid a climate change megadrought.
On Tuesday, Lake Mead’s water level stood at 1,040 feet, about 174 feet below its 2000 level, when it was last considered full. It is the lowest recorded level for the reservoir since it was filled in the 1930s.
Due to the low water level of the lake, one of the lake’s original water inlet valves was first uncovered in April. The valve had been in use since 1971, but can no longer draw in water, according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. That agency is responsible for managing the water resources for 2.2 million people in southern Nevada, including Las Vegas.
“The lake has dried up dramatically over the past 15 years,” said Lt. Ray Spencer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Homicide in May. “It’s likely we’ll find additional bodies dumped into Lake Mead” as the water level continues to drop.