7 GIFs That Will Convince You Just How Scary the Drought in the West Is

From a popular skiing spot to the largest man-made reservoir in North America, these before-and-after photos show why we need to save water.

(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Kristina Bravo is a Los Angeles–based writer. She is an Assistant Editor at TakePart.

Walk down any street in Los Angeles, and you’ll see how seriously most urban Californians are taking the drought: not very.

This week the city’s Department of Water and Power announced that it’s ramping up patrols by deploying four inspectors—up from one—to drive around and investigate water-wasting complaints. But in a city of nearly 4 million, it will be no surprise if four people aren’t able to stop golf courses from maintaining their green grass to a tee, dads from hosing down their SUVs, and Ice Bucket Challengers giddily dousing themselves with water. (Grist offers some commonsense advice: Skip the shower, recycle the water, or just donate to ALS research.) Meanwhile, Nestlé, which owns Arrowhead, continues to tap water from the desert 80 miles from Los Angeles.

Other Southwest states have been seeing the effects of the drought as well. Last month in Nevada, Lake Mead’s water level dropped to its lowest since the 1930s.

Most Americans might not feel the thirst just yet, but if the current rate of water consumption continues, they soon will. So here are seven before-and-after GIFs that reveal just how bad the drought has gotten.

Lake Mead, July 2007 to July 2014

The Lake Mead Marina was relocated in 2008 because of receding water levels. This year, North America’s largest man-made reservoir dipped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest level since the 1930s. 


(Photos: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


Lake Mead, July 2007 to July 2014

A boat sits in an area that used to be underwater.


(Photos: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


Lake Mead, July 2007 to July 2014

Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina.


(Photos: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


Mount Shasta, November 2013 to January 2014

Mount Shasta, Calif., has been popular among skiers but not recently. Its winter ski lifts closed down, and only two to three inches of snow covered the slopes by Jan. 16.


(Photos: Robert Simmon/NASA Earth Observatory)


Sierra Nevada, January 2013 to January 2014

This satellite view from NASA shows the change in snow cover on the California mountain range. Vegetation west of the mountains, which turned green to brown in the span of a year, has suffered from a lack of winter rain.


(Photos: LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team/NASA Earth Observatory)


California, July 2011 to June 2014

A satellite view from NASA shows that the region around California’s Northern Coast Range has turned significantly brown.


(Photos: Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon/NASA Earth Observatory)


Lake Folsom, July 20, 2011, to Aug. 19, 2014

Water levels behind the Folsom Dam at Folsom Lake in California have declined dramatically.


(Photos: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


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