The Surface Project

The Surface Project - The Stories and Science Living Within Our Lakes
Sunset colors the skies and waters of Lake Mohave.

What is The Surface Project?

The trillions of gallons of water in Lake Mead and Lake Mohave offer not only a place for recreation and a home for plants and animals, but also a critical water source for millions of people in the Southwest. Because this water is so important, people from dozens of organizations and agencies are constantly monitoring its quality and availability. The Surface Project is an exciting online resource that brings the stories and science within these lakes to the surface.


The Stories

  • A boat cruises near the white band along the shore of Lake Mead NRA

    In June 2016, Lake Mead’s water level reached a record low, but how does this affect those who depend on its water?

  • Colorado Rockies
    Water Source

    The trillions of gallons of water that fill our lakes have traveled hundreds of miles, and this journey begins with a snowflake.

  • A Las Vegas redidential neighborhood that depends on the water stored in Lake Mead
    Water Use

    Water is a basic necessity. How do the lakes provide clean, healthy water for two million residents and 43 million visitors each year?

  • Algae under a microscope

    The lakes' entire ecosystem relies on an inhabitant so small that it can barely be seen with the naked eye.

  • Aerial view of Lake Mead NRA

    The water in the lakes is constantly moving, mixing from top to bottom and basin to basin, distributing food as well as contaminants.

  • Striped Bass caught in Lake Mead
    Sport Fish

    Each year, millions of people flock to the lakes, in no small part because of their finned residents like striped bass and catfish.

  • A razorback sucker found in Lake Mead
    Native Fish

    One of the lakes' strangest-looking inhabitants – a type of fish called the razorback sucker – is also one of their most endangered species.

  • A peregrine falcon flying above Lake Mead
    Food Web

    From birds to fish to algae, all the lakes' species are interconnected. But who eats who, and why does it matter?

  • Researcher testing the water on Lake Mead
    Studying The Lake

    The lakes are like outdoor laboratories where researchers study everything from microscopic processes to big questions about safe water.

  • Quagga mussels found in Lake Mead
    Invasive Species

    A tiny troublemaker has invaded the lakes, and it's no easy task to keep these unwanted guests under control.

  • Water being collected for testing

    Even the cleanest water contains things other than water. Find out about the quality of the water you drink, swim in and fish from.

  • Temple Bar at Lake Mead NRA

    The outstanding rock formations that surround lakes Mead and Mohave tell the story of spectacular geologic events.


Frequently Asked Questions

Healthy Lakes - Healthy Lives

Since the lakes are such an important resource, residents and visitors alike have lots of questions about how healthy they are. Healthy Lakes – Healthy Lives answers these questions in an easy-to-read format, bringing together information from multiple sources to address the overall condition of lakes Mead and Mohave’s ecosystem.

Continue to FAQs


Last updated: September 2, 2020

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