LAS VEGAS (AP) — A body in a barrel was found on the newly exposed bottom of Nevada’s Lake Mead over the weekend as a drought depletes one of the nation’s largest reservoirs.
“I would say there is a very good chance that as the water level goes down, we will find additional human remains,” Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Spencer told KLAS-TV. Monday.
The lake level has dropped so low that the upper water intake at drought-stricken Lake Mead became visible last week. The reservoir on the Colorado River behind the Hoover Dam has been so depleted that Las Vegas is now pumping water from deep within Lake Mead, which also extends into Arizona.
Personal items found inside the barrel indicated the person died more than 40 years ago in the 1980s, Spencer said.
He declined to discuss the cause of death and refused to describe the items found, saying the investigation is ongoing.
Police plan to contact experts at 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 on 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 upriver are the largest man-made reservoirs in the US and are 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.