I-Team: Interior Sec. Happy to See Water Agencies Working Togeth - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Interior Sec. Happy to See Water Agencies Working Together

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LAS VEGAS -- The U.S. Interior Secretary told water agency chiefs in Las Vegas how happy she is to see them getting along.

Nevada gets a small portion of the Colorado River water because the levels were set in the 1920's.

Las Vegas was a small town then. Now, it is a thirsty metropolis. However, neighboring states are not that willing to give up their share of water.

New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell spoke to the Colorado River Water Users Association at Caesars Palace Friday morning.

The group is made of water agencies from most western states. She told the group she is happy to see that politics is not getting in the way of state governments talking about sharing dwindling water resources.

Secretary Jewell says it's because the talk about climate change reached a new level.

"The debate about whether it is going on is over. The president's climate action plan, which he released in June, was very helpful to all of us. He put a stake in the ground and he said, 'this is how we're going to go forward.' He charged people like me with being part of the solution and prepare our landscapes. That is where we're going. We're moving on from the debate and into the solution," Secretary Jewell said.

The secretary said that even with an average year of rain and snow along the Colorado River, reservoir levels will keep going down.

Lake Mead's level is expected to go down between eight and 30 feet within months. That would trigger a state of emergency forcing all agencies to cut water use by 4 percent.

One unusual problem the Interior Secretary says the department is facing the number of people running vital facilities, including the Hoover Dam, that are getting too old.

A majority of the people managing major water facilities are nearing or even past retirement age.

There is a fear of a talent drain, if the Interior Department doesn't find qualified employees soon.


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