LAS VEGAS (AP) — A body inside a barrel was found over the weekend on the newly exposed bottom of Nevada’s Lake Mead as drought depletes one of America’s largest reservoirs — and Officials predicted that the discovery could be just the first of the most sinister discoveries.
“I would say there’s a very good chance we’ll find more human remains as the water levels go down,” Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Spencer told KLAS-TV. Monday.
Lake levels have dropped so much that a water intake at drought-stricken Lake Mead became visible last week. The drought-starved reservoir on the Colorado River behind the Hoover Dam has become so depleted that Las Vegas is now pumping water deeper into Lake Mead.
Personal items found inside the barrel indicate the person died more than 40 years ago in the 1980s, Spencer said.
He declined to discuss a cause of death and declined to describe the items found, saying the investigation was ongoing.
Police plan to contact experts from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to analyze when the barrel began to erode. The Clark County Coroner’s Office will attempt to determine the person’s identity.
Boaters spotted the barrel Sunday afternoon. National Park Service rangers searched an area near the lake’s Hemenway Harbor and found the barrel containing skeletal remains.
Lake Mead and Lake Powell upstream are the largest man-made reservoirs in the United States, 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.