Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

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— Interactive by Zach Wise

Las Vegas was first settled for its springs, springs that made it an oasis in the desert. Although those springs have decades since run dry, water is still the most import resource to Las Vegas and the dry Southwest.

And by all indications the region is only going to get dryer. Scientists predict devastating effects from global warming, conservationists are calling for a halt to growth in Southern Nevada as a way to preserve supplies and water managers are looking to ever more creative ways to reduce reliance on the overburdened Colorado River. A Colorado River reservoir at Lake Mead is the source of 90 percent of the valley's water supply. Water levels there have fallen steadily for nearly a decade.

Now Southern Nevada water managers say they can no longer rely on the river so heavily, and must construct a massive pipeline to draw water stored underground for centuries in rural Nevada to Las Vegas. They say no amount of conservation can replace the need for this backup source of drinking water.

Opponents say the effects of the pumping would be devastating and that the plan would sacrifice a rural, ranching way of life in Eastern Nevada for casinos and tract home in the south.

But it's not only the lack of water that worries environmentalists and water managers alike. It's also water quality, the endangered species that life in Southern Nevada's rivers and streams and the recreation opportunities that make the region's national parks so popular.

Water is one of the most politically charged issues in Nevada today, and it's certainly one of the most important.

Phoebe Sweet

Residential Water Use Interactive

How much water do we use in Las Vegas? Tour the valley to examine residential water consumption in neighborhoods and search the usage for homes in the Sun's water interactive.

Archive highlights

The Equation: No water, no growth

Sun, Jun 15, 2008

The congressman from American Samoa was confused. Could Senator Reid clarify for him again who owned the land around Las Vegas? Nevada? The U.S. government? Bugsy Siegel?

Satiating a booming city

Sun, Jun 1, 2008

How had it come to this? A thriving region of nearly 2 million people was running out of water even as the mighty Colorado River flowed just 30 miles away. ...

The Chosen One

Sun, Jun 8, 2008

The men who manage urban water districts in the West tend to come out of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Who better to understand how and where Western water is ...

Water: The more you use, the more you’ll have to pay

Tue, Apr 8, 2008

The county’s largest water district is adopting “conservation pricing.” The concept is simple: If you want people to use less water, make it more expensive, especially for those who use ...

All stories

Director: Brookings Institution happy to welcome Mulroy, a ‘national leader’ on water issues

Tue, Apr 15, 2014

The managing director of the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said today that his organization is “delighted” to add former Southern Nevada water chief Pat Mulroy to its roster of ...

Water expert Mulroy to join Brookings Mountain West, Desert Research Institute

Tue, Apr 15, 2014

Recently retired water czar Pat Mulroy is bringing her expertise and reputation as an international leader on water issues to a pair of institutions with a connection to UNLV. She ...

Water agencies laying off 101 workers in reorganization

Wed, Apr 9, 2014

The Southern Nevada Water Authority and Las Vegas Valley Water District announced an organization-wide staff reduction today that will result in 101 people losing their jobs. In addition to laying ...

Officials announce $1.1 billion for cleanup of contaminated Henderson industrial site

Thu, Apr 3, 2014

More than $1 billion will be paid to a trust responsible for cleaning up a former chemical manufacturing site in Henderson that has led to contamination in Lake Mead. The ...

The nation’s most endangered waterway is in our backyard

Sun, Mar 30, 2014

Water is more valuable than gold when you live in the desert. And the water level at Lake Mead is being taxed more than ever. So how much more water ...

The ripple effect of less water

Sun, Mar 30, 2014

Amid growing concern that the drought gripping the West isn’t history repeating itself but instead is a new normal brought about by climate change, the effects of the dwindling water ...

What if we couldn’t pump water out of Lake Mead?

Sun, Mar 30, 2014

Though we are down to one intake straw at Lake Mead, the Southern Nevada Water Authority is confident in its backup plan, in the remote chance of a catastrophe ...

Despite good snowpack in Rockies, Lake Mead level still expected to drop

Sun, Mar 30, 2014

How long, at the rate we use water in the valley, will it be before Lake Mead — the largest reservoir in the country — is drained and arid?

The thirsty West: What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas

Wed, Mar 19, 2014

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/03/las_vegas_water_conservation_it_s_a_mirage.html

Drought and growth intensify conflict over water rights

Wed, Mar 19, 2014

Across the parched American West, the long drought has set off a series of fierce legal and political battles over who controls an increasingly dear treasure — water ...

Videos

Dry Town, Dry Future
Dry Town, Dry Future
For 60 years, the town of St. Thomas lay beneath the waters of Lake Mead. ...

Slideshows

Lost and found
The town of St. Thomas was abandoned to the rising waters of Lake Mead in ...
Fighting an invader
A beetle’s selective appetite for tamarisk trees makes it well suited to fight the invasive ...

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