The American West Dries Up

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown stood on a dry, bare hillside in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which would normally be deep under snow at this time of year, and announced an executive order aimed at dramatically reducing water usage statewide. The severity of the drought, now entering its fourth year, has already reached record levels in many places in California and across the West. Lake Powell, a reservoir on the Utah-Arizona border, is currently at 45 percent of capacity and is at risk of reaching the lowest level on record by September. California's snowpack, which generally provides about a third of the state's water, is already at its lowest level on record. Getty Images photographer Justin Sullivan traveled to lakes and reservoirs in California, Utah, and Arizona to capture the following scenes of an increasingly waterless West.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Andrea Spinelli / Corbis via Getty

    A World Without People

    For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have abandoned many places around the world.

  • Dan Mullan / Getty

    Baku 2017: The Islamic Solidarity Games

    For the past 10 days in Baku, Azerbaijan, 6,000 athletes from 54 nations competed in 21 sports during the fourth iteration of the Islamic Solidarity Games.

  • Lucas Jackson / Reuters

    The Finale of 'The Greatest Show on Earth'

    After a run of 146 years, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, known as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” has come to an end.

  • Pascal Pochard-Casabianca / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 5/13–5/19

    The world’s fastest shed in Wales, France welcomes a new president, a portrait of the late singer Chris Cornell on stage in Atlanta, a new eruption of Mount Sinabung, and much more.

Join the Discussion