Water Shortage Reaching Critical Stage - 8 News NOW

Water Shortage Reaching Critical Stage

Posted: Updated:

LAS VEGAS -- Drought conditions have drained Lake Mead to near critical levels, and a rush of water from Lake Powell may not be as much as normal.

Before water used by the Las Vegas valley gets to Lake Mead, it goes to Lake Powell on the Utah/Arizona border. However, federal officials are expected to announce next week that Lake Powell has much less water to give Nevada.

That puts the lake levels dangerously close to where federal water restrictions kick in for southern Nevada.

Lake Mead's bathtub ring is about to turn into a drain, not only on Las Vegas' growth, but on people's wallets.

Right now, there are two giant intakes at Lake Mead, known as straws. The straws draw southern Nevada's drinking water.

New projections from the Southern Nevada Water Authority predict the water will drop too low for one of those straws by February 2016.

"At that point, you have 90 percent of the water supply for 2 million people coming out of a single source. No water manager wants to be in that position. Where you are one single catastrophic event from losing that water supply," deputy manager at the SNWA John Entsminger said.

If Lake Mead drops to 1,075 feet, Nevada will be forced to cut its water use by 4 percent. The lake is now at 1,106 and falling fast.

If this all seems familiar, it is because water officials said in 2010 they would have much of this problem fixed by now with a third straw.

However, Lake Mead's third straw was delayed by an fault line, underground flooding and a worker's death. The digging on the new straw is 25 percent complete, with hopes of completion by early 2015.

SNWA's next plan is the controversial pipeline to bring groundwater from eastern Nevada and Utah to Las Vegas. Court battles with landowners could delay the project indefinitely.

"When you looked at Hurricane Sandy, for instance, it was not: 'what is the payroll of the City of Trenton?' It was: 'a natural disaster has occurred, and we need to come together as a region,"' Entsminger said.

"They really all see, as do most scientists, the fact that we're not really in a period of drought. It is climate change." Dr. Stephen Parker, with UNLV, said

Parker believes long-term solutions include paying Southern California farmers to not use water.

Creating water from the sea is another solution, but California has told Nevada to look elsewhere: south of the border.

"Cities and states cannot negotiate with other countries. That is with the State Department. It would take a treaty or executive agreement," Parker said.

To keep water flowing in southern Nevada, Mexico may be Las Vegas' best hope.

Senator Harry Reid's office told 8 News NOW that he is meeting with SNWA manager Pat Mulroy and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell next Tuesday in Las Vegas.

They will discuss opening up $50 million dollars in federal funding for water districts along the Colorado River.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.