Water worries: Is Las Vegas drying up?
In 1935 the construction of the Hoover Dam created Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, supplying water to around 20 million residents in Nevada, California and Arizona. The “City of Sin,” Las Vegas, gets 90% of its water from the lake. But weather conditions and increased demand for water are sucking the massive lake dry.
A desert town, Las Vegas has a 93% water reuse rate and has cut its water usage considerably by measures including paying homeowners to get rid of wasteful lawns. Nevertheless, over the past 14 years Lake Mead has shrunken by 4 trillion gallons (15 trillion liters). The 13-year long drought affecting the area has caused water levels in the lake to drop by over 100 feet (30 meters).
California’s drought is exacerbating the situation and leaving already vulnerable Las Vegas at an even greater risk of drying up. A dried up Hoover Dam would also leave the city without power.
Even in a good water year, California’s water system uses 20% of the state’s electricity to get that water to farms, cities and towns,” says Peter J. Hanlon, a Senior Research and Policy Analyst for GRACE Communications Foundation. Drought impacts lakes too, like Lake Mead, now in danger of leaving hydroelectric turbines at Hoover Dam high and dry, unable to produce power for its 1.3 million consumers.
The Glenn Canyon Institute, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based organization dedicated to the restoration of the Colorado River, wants to get rid of another reservoir, Lake Powell, thereby raising the water levels of Lake Mead.
From KLSTV Las Vegas:
It will raise the levels in Lake Mead, give stability to the economy in Las Vegas, and restore 300,000 acre feet to the Colorado River.
That recovery would happen cause the Navajo sandstone basin of Lake Powell is porous and allows it to seep away and it’s the most wasteful storage in the system.
—Christi Wedig, Glen Canyon Institute.
But some officials are sceptical.
See this video report for more.