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Nevadas Water Source Going Dry But Wont Impact Las VegasFor Now

Lake Mead and the Colorado River Basin have the effect of 90 percent of water for Southern Nevada and NEVADA. Theyre going dry.

Indeed, because of depleting water levels through the drought, the Bureau of Reclamation cut Southern Nevadas water allocation by 7 billion gallons last January. In January 2023, itll cut yet another 1.1 billion gallons.

Epoch Times Photo
A formerly sunken boat sits on cracked earth a huge selection of feet from the shoreline of Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National CAR PARK on, may 10, 2022. (John Locher/AP)

The good thing, according to primary water supplier Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), is that 99 percent of indoor water found in Southern Nevada is recycled, and Southern Nevada has successfully reduced its water consumption by 25 percent since 2002.

The bad news is Southern Nevada uses 60 percent of its water for outdoor purposes, and Lake Mead continues to be declining despite conservation efforts.

Declining Water Levels

The Colorado River Basin serves seven Basin States. In 1922, the states established the Colorado River Compact release a water from Lake Mead (the low basin) and Lake Powell (top of the basin) predicated on storage conditions.

Per the compact, each basin gets 7.5 million acre-feet of water per yearone-acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallonsand a particular percentage would go to the Basin States predicated on water levels in the dams.

On Aug. 31, Lake Meads water level was just over 1,044 feet above sea level. Thats almost 185 feet below the 1,229 feet level once the basin is full, in accordance with official reports, and is really a drop of 176 feet since 1999.

A recent photo of Lake Mead shows white rings caused by declining reservoir levels during the drought. (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)
A recently available photo of Lake Mead shows white rings due to declining reservoir levels through the drought. (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)

Just over per year prior on Aug. 16, 2021, Lake Mead fell below 1,075 feet and triggered the first-ever Level 1 Shortage Condition from Reclamation. That resulted in the 7 billion gallons allocation reduction mentioned previously, referred to as Level 1 water reductions.

Importantly, if Lake Meads water level drops to 895 feet, itll reach dead pool levelsa foreboding term which means Hoover Dam wont have the ability to produce hydropower or deliver water downstreamsomething relied on by millions of Americans.

However, the particular level 1 reductions havent been enough to come back Lake Meads water level to above 1,075 feet to get rid of Level 1 water reduction efforts. Accordingly, on Aug. 16, the government declared Level 2 water reductions for the Colorado River.

For Nevada, the particular level 2 reductions mean a complete 2023 water allocation of 275,000 acre-feet of water4,000 acre-feet significantly less than 2022s allocation.

Water Conservation

In accordance with 2021estimatesby the U.S. Census Bureau, Nevadas population is merely over 3.144 million people, and 2.2 million residents reside in the greater NEVADA Valley. SNWA provides them with water.

SNWA states, Nevadas 300,000 acre-foot each year (AFY) Colorado River apportionment is still Southern Nevadas largest & most critical permanent resource.

However, in 2021, reclamation instituted reduced allocations, cutting Nevadas 300,000 allotments.

Luckily for Nevada residents, in 2002, SNWA adopted a drought plan that implemented stepped conservation measures. Because of those measures, in2021, Southern Nevada residents consumed 242,000 acre-feet of water.

Notably, SNWA states concerning the efforts, Southern Nevada has been finding your way through and giving an answer to drought and climate change impacts The city has responded proactively, aggressively, and in a sustained manner.

Lake Mead
The very best of Lake Mead normal water Intake No. 1 above the top degree of the Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam on April 25, 2022. (Southern Nevada Water Authority via AP)

Within the aboveefforts, SNWA instituted seasonal water restrictions, encouraged replacing grass with water smart landscapes, and prohibited turf installation in new residential front yards. Plus, it encouraged customers to report water waste and instituted incentive pricing, billing, and landscape audit programs.

Arguably, the most efficient effort undertaken by SNWA was installing an intake valve in the bottom of Lake Mead.

Actually, Nevada may be the only Lower Basin state to draw water directly from Lake Mead. Others pull water downstream of Hoover Dam.

Dubbed the 3rd straw, SNWAs intake valve construction began in 2008 and was completed in 2020. It now sits in the bottom of Lake Mead at 875 feet. It started operations in April.

Consequently, even though Lake Mead reaches dead pool levels and cant supply other states with water and power, Southern Nevada residents will still have water. Nevada could experience a drop in power, but hydroelectric power provides significantly less than five percent the states total electricity net generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The 3rd intake valve came online just with time. On April 25, SNWA revealed that its first intake valve, at1,050 feet, became visible above the water line. Its since become inoperable.

Katie Spence


Katie covers energy and politics for The Epoch Times. Prior to starting her career as a journalist, Katie proudly served in the Air Force being an Airborne Operations Technician on JSTARS. She obtained her degree in Analytic Philosophy and a in Cognitive Studies from the University of Colorado. Katies writing has appeared on, The Maverick Observer, The Motley Fool, First Quarter Finance, The Cheat Sheet, and Email her at

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