Is Las Vegas Running Out Of Water?

First, many folks think that the domestic water we are consuming in the valley on a daily basis is causing the Lake Mead water levels to drop when in fact, Southern Nevada has one of the most sophisticated water reclamation/recycling systems in the country.

Where most Western states reclaim and treat domestic water then send it on down the river, wash, channel etc. never to be used by them again, Southern Nevada recycles around 99% of our domestic water use which includes hotels and casinos. Through a sophisticated network of over 2000 miles of piping almost every drop of water that goes down our drains is captured, treated and returned to Lake Mead for us to use over and over again.

It must be those darn casinos then!

Well, all of the hotel and casinos combined only account for just over a mere 7% of the valley's water use and again, aside from landscaping and evaporation from the pools, all of their water use goes right back into the lake.

There is too much construction and growth taking place and it's sucking up all of the water!

Actually, through our extraordinary recycling and through some great conservation efforts, we used less water last year than we did 10 years ago despite the valley growing by over 800,000 people during that time.

So, then what the heck is the problem?

Aside from drought of course, the real problem has nothing to do with us at all! It is in fact the huge farms located in the very hot deserts of California, Arizona and Mexico that are sucking up obscene amounts of Colorado river water needed to grow crops on these farms in that climate and ultimately causing the lake levels to drop. Who actually thought farming in the 100 plus degree desert was a good idea?? In fact, Southern Nevada is only allotted 4% per year of the Colorado river water (a tiny fraction of what CA, AZ and Mexico get) and we never come close to using that full allotment.

Some good news is that the federal government has already stepped in and reduced the amount of water allocated to Arizona and Mexico with California being next. They have also said that if the lake levels drop another 180 ft, all three will be cut off all together in regards to farming and the farms will either have to find alternative water supplies, shut down or relocate to somewhere with a more favorable climate like the Midwest and with that the lake levels though still very low, will be able to be maintained. In addition, Lake Powell has been holding back a huge amount of water that would normally flow into Lake Mead in order to keep the Glen Canyon dam operational. They have recently started releasing more water which has already slowed the rate of decline in Lake Mead.

Did you know....Southern Nevada has about 10 years' worth of water supply stored away or "banked" in aquifers throughout the state.

Bottom Line

So, with Southern Nevada getting 23% of its power from the Hoover dam, Arizona getting 18% and California well over 50% of its power from the dam, an empty lake is just not an option as these cities and states would seize to exist.

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