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

  • Patrick Van Emst / ANP / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Sandy Hooves, Sunny Park, Count Binface

    Reopenings in Europe, coping with COVID-19 in India, kayak racing in Italy, artistic swimming in Budapest, an elephant-seal pup in California, and much more

  • Atta Kenare / AFP / Getty

    Photos: Eid al-Fitr and the End of Ramadan 2021

    Images of Muslims around the world observing Eid al-Fitr and Ramadan this year

  • Qusay Dawud / AFP / Getty

    Photos: Violence Explodes Across Israel and Gaza

    Following weeks of escalating tensions, militants in the Gaza Strip began firing rockets into Israel, and Israeli forces have conducted air strikes in Gaza in response.

  • Amanda Perobelli / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Glass Ceiling, Blue Grotto, Lava Glow

    A May Day rally in Istanbul, a SpaceX splashdown in Florida, an early cicada in Maryland, a diving competition in Tokyo, orienteering in Ukraine, and much more