U.S. Water News Online
LAS VEGAS -- The booming Las Vegas area's water demands
could outstrip the region's share of the Colorado River by 2007,
according to the 2006 water budget approved by the Southern Nevada
Water Authority board.
Kay Brothers, the Water Authority's deputy general manager, called
that timeline a worst-case scenario, adding that through conservation
and careful planning the state's share of the river water could be
stretched beyond 2007.
But Brothers acknowledged the day is coming when southern Nevada
will no longer be able to depend largely on its allotment from the
river which currently supplies 90 percent of the area's drinking
Brothers also said the annual budgets are based on separate
projections from each of the authority's member agencies --
projections that "tend to be conservative."
The water authority has had to come up with back-up resources,
just in case.
The 2006 water resource plan approved along with the agency's
budget outlines some of those options. They include about 290,000
acre feet of groundwater stored beneath the Las Vegas Valley, 30,000
acre feet banked with California and an agreement with Arizona that
guarantees Nevada 1.25 million acre feet of water over the next 30
The water authority already has plans to build a $2 billion
pipeline to pump groundwater from rural basins in rural Nevada.
Officials also hope to use water from the Virgin and Muddy rivers.
The first of the rural groundwater is slated to arrive in 2008
from watersheds near Indian Springs.
Nevada gets 300,000 acre feet of water that flows into Lake Mead
from the Colorado River each year, though that amount is stretched to
about 460,000 acre feet through return-flow credits the state
receives for returning its treated wastewater to Lake Mead.
A 1922 compact and several later agreements divided the river
among seven Western states. Efforts to change the deal have triggered
bitter fights in the nation's highest courts.
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