Investigators looking for answers after 2nd set of human remains found in Lake Mead

Investigators are looking for more information after a second set of human remains were found in Lake Mead, which is experiencing a plunge in water levels due to an ongoing megadrought.

The remains — discovered Saturday afternoon in Nevada’s Callville Bay — were the second found in less than a week. A body in a barrel was found May 1, and investigators believe the person was likely a murder victim from the 1970s or ’80s who died from a gunshot wound.

The latest set of remains may not share the same circumstances, with other scenarios such as drowning possible, police say.

“At this point, we don’t believe foul play is involved,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told CNN’s Victor Blackwell on Monday of the latest remains, adding that investigators preliminarily believe they are those of an adult.

And with more of the reservoir receding, “there’s always the possibility that more human remains could be uncovered,” Spencer said.

The Clark County Medical Examiner is assisting with determining the cause of death, according to the National Park Service, which said there is “no further information is available at this time.”

Levels continue to drop

Around 40 million people in the West rely on water from the Colorado River and its two largest reservoirs — Lake Mead and Lake Powell — where levels have fallen for years amid a historic drought.

As of Monday, Lake Mead’s water level was around 1,052 feet above sea level — roughly 162 feet below its 2000 level, when it was last considered full. It’s the lowest level on record for the reservoir since it was filled in the 1930s.

The lake’s low water level exposed one of the reservoir’s original water intake valves in April for the first time. The valve had been in service since 1971, but it can no longer draw water, according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. That agency is responsible for managing water resources for 2.2 million people in southern Nevada, including Las Vegas.

Upstream at Lake Powell, federal officials announced unprecedented, emergency steps last week to keep more water in that reservoir — and preserve the Glen Canyon Dam’s ability to generate hydropower — rather than sending it downstream to Lake Mead.

“We have never taken this step before, but the potential risk on the horizon demands prompt action,” Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo told reporters last week. “We need to work together to stabilize the reservoir before we face a larger crisis.”

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