The results of a multi-million dollar federal study of Nevada's groundwater will be released in a few weeks, and the stakes for our state couldn't be higher. Investigative Reporter George Knapp has an exclusive interview with one of the chief scientists involved.More>>
The news coming from the Southern Nevada Water Authority Thursday about the valley's future water supply is worrisome. Unless we act quickly, there will be no water for hundreds of thousands of Las Vegas Valley residents in just three years.
Eyewitness News looked deeper into the problem and why time may not be on our side. Not only is this a race against time, but it's going to cost valley residents dearly.
SNWA data shows drought conditions getting worse, not better forcing the general manager of the water authority to ask the board to spend more than $45 million to upgrade water pumps at Lake Mead.
Those pumps would be attached to the second drinking water intake at the lake and double its capacity to pump drinking water. At the current rate, the water level will drop below the first intake in less than three years drastically cutting the supply of drinking water to Las Vegas.
Then, there's a three to five year gap before drinking water can be pumped through a proposed pipeline from White Pine County, which means the new pumps at Lake Mead need to be quickly installed.
It also means General Manager Pat Mulroy is getting more aggressive in plans to pipe in drinking water from sources other than the Colorado River.
Mulroy said, "The point I was making today is that we have run out of options. We have run out of time to wring our hands about it and try to delay it. If we do that we are putting our own families and our own security in jeopardy."
Any water projects delays like building a pipeline, or adding the pumps could mean Las Vegas may run out of water anytime after 2010.
The additional $45 million spent on pumps and the cost of building a water pipeline may also raise rates in the future.
A good question is whether more conservation could make up the difference to keep drinking water flowing. And there will be another huge conservation campaign unveiled within the next month.
But valley residents can only tighten the belt so far. That's why Pat Mulroy has agreements to bank water in Arizona, as well as Nevada water reserves. She hopes that will last until the pipeline can start pumping.
Even if all of the water projects are finished and everything starts working on time, the Southern Nevada Water Authority still predicts a shortage.
That means by 2010, the valley will be short 64-million gallons of water a day.