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

  • Veronica Cardenas / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Firefighting Goats, Lake Chair, Saint Javelin

    A fancy-dress evening in Versailles, a destroyed industrial area in Ukraine, a mass wedding on the Uyuni Salt Flat, mourning families in Texas, Fleet Week in New York City, and much more

  • Qassem Al-Kaabi / AFP / Getty

    Photos: Sandstorms Sweep Across Parts of the Middle East

    A series of sandstorms has sent thousands to hospitals with breathing problems, and caused the closure of airports, schools, and government offices.

  • Sergione Infuso / Corbis via Getty

    Photos of the Week: Garbage Suit, Mesquite Heat, Bog Commander

    A fashion show in Burkina Faso, images from battlefields in Ukraine, the Witches and Wizards Convention in Brazil, a sandstorm in Iraq, electric-scooter racing in England, and much more

  • Caitlin Ochs / Reuters

    Water Levels in Lake Mead Reach Record Lows

    Images of Lake Mead, which has reached its lowest water levels since the 1930s