NASA has released disturbing “then-and-now” satellite images of Lake Powell, showing how far water levels have receded over the past five years due to extreme drought.

The photo on the left shows the reservoir’s water levels in August 2017. The image on the right shows the nation’s second-largest reservoir as it appears today from space.

Lake Powell August 2017-August 2022
Lake Powell in 2017 vs. 2022. Courtesy: NASA

Water managers say Lake Powell, which captures water from the Colorado River, is at its lowest level since it was filled in 1967 and is currently at just 26% of capacity.

The river provides electricity and water to roughly 40 million people in the Southwestern United States, most notably the cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego.

It also provides water for 4 to 5 million acres of farmland in the Southwest. 

“After three years of intense drought and two decades of long-term drought in the American Southwest, federal water managers have been forced to reduce the amount of water that will be portioned out to states around the Colorado River watershed in the 2023 water year,” NASA wrote in it’s news release accompanying the images. “According to an August 16 announcement from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Arizona will receive 21 percent less water from the Colorado River system next year; Nevada will receive 8 percent less; and Mexico will get 7 percent less.”