|Welcome to Lake Mead.|
Suck That Water Down
- We keep importing millions and millions of new legal and illegal foreigners into the desert communities of California, Nevada and Arizona.
- Now Las Vegas is making plans to keep sucking dry Lake Mead even after water levels drop into the danger zone.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Facing dwindling water supplies, Western states are struggling to capture every drop with dam and diversion projects that some think could erode regional cooperation crucial to managing the scarce resource.
Against that backdrop, eight Western governors meeting in Las Vegas this weekend will address regional water issues, and water managers from seven states arrive next week to work on ways to ensure 40 million people in the parched Colorado River basin don't go thirsty.
Gary Wockner, a conservationist with the Denver-based advocacy group Save the Colorado, said there's already jostling amid the fear of empty buckets. "Everyone is trying to get the last legal drop of water," he said.
|A view of Lake Mead in the distance behind boats in dry dock near |
where the Lake Mead Marina was once located.
"Diversions extract water from the system," said Jack Schmidt, professor of watershed sciences at Utah State University. He just completed three years studying the Grand Canyon for the U.S. Geological Survey. "More water use and more water retention in the upper basin means less water flowing through the Grand Canyon to the lower basin."
Schmidt referred to the Colorado River Compact of 1922 and agreements with Mexico that promise about 16.5 million acre-feet of water annually from a river system that has historically taken in about 15 million acre-feet from rainfall and snowmelt. But that amount has diminished during almost 15 years of drought. One acre-foot of water is about enough to serve two average Las Vegas homes for a year.
"You could say that we decided how to divide the pie, but the pie is smaller than anybody thought," Schmidt said. "With climate change, it is even smaller than that."
In Las Vegas, which virtually relies on water from Lake Mead, officials are making plans to add a $650 million pumping facility to draw from the reservoir even if levels drop below 1,000 feet above sea level. That's the line at which Hoover Dam's hydroelectric turbines would be idled.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority already is drilling an $800 million tunnel to tap water from the bottom of the lake, at 860 feet above sea level.
At 900 feet — so-called "dead pool" — the river would end at Hoover Dam. Nothing would flow downstream.
The lake reached its high water mark in 1983 at 1,225 feet.Read More . . . .