Las Vegas Sun

June 22, 2018

Currently: 92° — Complete forecast |

For Want of Water

— 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

Experts: 'Alarming' drought conditions hit U.S. Southwest
Experts: 'Alarming' drought conditions hit U.S. Southwest
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Rivers and watering holes are drying up, popular mountain recreation spots are closing and water restrictions are in full swing as a persistent drought intensifies its grip on pockets of ...
Photo: A bird's-eye view of the Las Vegas Strip at dusk,
The Strip might use less water than you think
Thursday, May 10, 2018
The Las Vegas Strip only consumes about 1 percent of all water allocated to the state from the Colorado River ...
Photo: Lake Mead's water level is shown from Boulder City
Careful planning, conservation helps L.V. delay critical water shortages suffered elsewhere
Thursday, May 10, 2018
A day without water:
In the Las Vegas desert, experts don’t believe our local situation will mirror the crisis experienced by Cape Town anytime soon. The valley’s consistent water supply can be attributed to conservation strategies that ...
Photo: This Aug. 29, 2002, photo, shows the Colorado Rive
'It's pretty dramatic': Outlook for Colorado River remains grim
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
The outlook for the most important river in the Southwestern U.S. remains grim this summer after April storms failed to produce much snow in the ...
Arizona utility tries to end multistate Colorado River feud
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Arizona's largest water provider tried Tuesday to defuse a multistate dispute over the Colorado River, saying it regretted the belligerent-sounding words it used to describe its ...
Photo: This Nov. 19, 2012, file photo, shows the high-flo
Low, steady flows from Arizona dam could benefit bugs
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Any great fishing hole depends on the health and well-being of its bugs. In a stretch of the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam, anglers have been pulling out long, skinny trout that don't give up much of a fight with ...
How nanotechnology could be used to clean water in Nevada
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Nanotechnology could soon help clean up almost all of the dirty water in Northern Nevada, making it safe to drink, Lance Gilman, the partner broker of ...
Lake Tahoe records greatest March snow recovery in 27 years
Lake Tahoe records greatest March snow recovery in 27 years
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Officials say Lake Tahoe is holding enough water to supply Reno for as many as three years. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Reno Chief Deputy Water Master Dave Wathen said Monday Lake Tahoe is within about a foot of its ...
New normal? Drought expands across the Southwest
New normal? Drought expands across the Southwest
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Drought is tightening its grip across a wide swath of the American Southwest as farmers, ranchers and water managers throughout the region brace for what's expected to be more warm and dry weather through the spring. A federal drought map released today shows ...
Could Las Vegas’ thirst one day be quenched with ocean water?
Could Las Vegas’ thirst one day be quenched with ocean water?
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Southern Nevada’s population could grow to about 3.6 million in 50 years, sparking talks of the possibility of a water desalination plant on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The region now has an estimated ...