Drought reveals grim find in barrel in US reservoir



A body inside a barrel has been found on the the newly exposed bottom of Nevada’s Lake Mead as drought depletes one of the largest US reservoirs – with officials predicting the discovery could be just the first of more grim finds.

“I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains,” Las Vegas Police Lieutenant Ray Spencer told KLAS-TV on Monday.

The lake’s level has dropped so much the uppermost water intake at drought-stricken Lake Mead became visible last week.

“The lake has drained dramatically over the last 15 years,” Lieutenant Spencer said.

“The barrel was likely dropped hundreds of yards off the shore back then but that area is now considered the shoreline.”

The reservoir on the Colorado River behind Hoover Dam has become so depleted Las Vegas is pumping water from deeper within Lake Mead, which also stretches into Arizona.

Personal items found inside the barrel indicated the person died more than 40 years ago, in the 1980s, Lieutenant Spencer said.

He declined to discuss a cause of death or to describe the items found, saying an investigation was ongoing.

Police plan to consult experts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to analyse when the barrel started eroding.

The Clark County coroner’s office will try to determine the person’s identity. An autopsy was carried out on Monday (US time).

People out boating spotted the barrel on Sunday afternoon.

Lieutenant Spencer said those in the boat could see the remains in the barrel because it was corroded.

Later, National Park Service rangers searched an area near the lake’s Hemenway Harbour and found the barrel containing skeletal remains.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell upstream are the largest human-made reservoirs in the US, part of a system that provides water to more than 40 million people, tribes, agriculture and industry in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and across the southern border in Mexico.

Lake Mead has been emptying for years, and is at its lowest level since it was filled in the 1930s.

-with AAP

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