Group Claims Solution to Lake Mead's Water Shortage - 8 News NOW

Group Claims Solution to Lake Mead's Water Shortage

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LAS VEGAS -- Southern Nevada's main water supply is shrinking. Since the drought started 13- years ago, Lake Mead has dropped by more than 100 feet.

It went from 1,200 feet in 2000 to 1,108 feet today. If the water drops much lower, new conservation steps will have to happen. The lake would receive an official water shortage designation with mandatory water restrictions.

One group claims to have a solution, but it's controversial.

It's called Fill Mead First and it's what the Glen Canyon Institute is calling a common sense solution. The non-profit environmental group is opposed to the existence of Lake Powell. They want Lake Mead to be the primary water storage facility for the Colorado River Basin. They say they are dedicated to the restoration of the Colorado River. 

"It will raise the levels in Lake Mead, give stability to the economy in Las Vegas, and restore 300,000 acre feet to the Colorado River," said Christi Wedig, Glen Canyon Institute.

The water, which is currently being held in Lake Powell, is being wasted because it is seeping through the sandstone. The lake loses water at a rate of nearly 400,000 acre feet per year. It's an amount that is equal to Nevada's entire one year allocation of water from the Colorado River.

"That recovery would happen cause the Navajo sandstone basin of Lake Powell is porous and allows it to seep away and it's the most wasteful storage in the system," Wedig said.

She believes filling Lake Mead first before storing water in Lake Powell would save water from the Colorado River and help restore its damaged ecosystem.

"We are signing the death warrant for the Grand Canyon. We are putting it on life support through environmental programs designed to fix the damage that Glen Canyon does when we can simply bypass Glen Canyon Dam and fill Lake Mead first. We will solve many of these problems," Wedig said.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority says filling Lake Mead before impounding water in Lake Powell is problematic.

"What it would do, it would create a very difficult situation for upper basin states and that would affect relationships in California and Arizona," said J.C. Davis, SNWA.

Wedig says the plan wouldn't cost much and it's worth a try.

"If the desired results were not achieved then it could be easily reversed through administrative action. It doesn't require any new infrastructure," she said.

But others believe trying the plan could lead to bigger problems down the Colorado River.

"It's a dangerous thing because the only reason the Colorado River is getting through this drought is because we have good partnership managing Lake Mead together and that only works when one group isn't doing something that hurts the other group," Davis said.

SNWA officials say they believe the possible solution is to keep Lake Mead at a serviceable level but do it without sacrificing Lake Powell and the partnerships they have with other states.

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