It’s one thing to hear about the severity of the drought out West, but images of Lake Mead, on the Colorado River, show an unprecedented drop in its water level and hammer home the severity of the drought. Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, is filled to only 40 percent of capacity. The 14-year drought in the area surrounding the Colorado River basin has resulted in an astounding 150-foot drop in water levels. The bleached “bathtub ring” visible on the banks of Lake Mead towers more than a hundred feet over passing pleasure boats.

“To see it in person is simply jaw-dropping, ” said photographer Justin Sullivan, who captured these powerful images. Sullivan traveled throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona, covering the effects of the severe drought that grips parts of the western United States. The forecast for this summer remains ominous as a below-average snowmelt from the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah is expected to result in a low flow of water through the Colorado River Basin into two of its biggest reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, said Sullivan. FULL REPORT