Las Vegas Sun

July 26, 2016

Currently: 105° — Complete forecast

— 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

Federal officials say Lake Mead water won't be released

Thu, Jul 21, 2016

Federal officials say they won't release water that Arizona and other Lower Colorado River Basin states have stored in Lake Mead to another state. Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Connor wrote ...

How Lake Mead officials are fending off a water war amid historically low levels

Sat, Jul 9, 2016

The goal, as has been the case for years, is for water users to limit how much they take out of Lake Mead. Yet the cuts would not apply evenly. ...

Officials call for upkeep at shuttered northwest L.V. golf course

Wed, Jun 1, 2016

The water-starved Silverstone Golf Club has become an eyesore, threatening vegetation and property values in this northwest valley neighborhood ...

Trump tells California, ‘There is no drought’

Fri, May 27, 2016

Speaking at a rally in Fresno, Calif., Trump accused state officials of denying water to Central Valley farmers so they can send it out to sea "to protect ...

Massive Navajo farm heads into Week 2 with no irrigation

Sun, May 22, 2016

The largest farm on the Navajo Nation has been without water for more than a week after a pipeline break, endangering food crops worth millions of dollars and threatening jobs ...

‘Early warning signal’: Lake Mead hits historic low

Thu, May 19, 2016

Lake Mead’s surface Wednesday evening hit its lowest level since the man-made reservoir was created by the building of the Hoover Dam in 1935. The surface of the lake — ...

California weighs next step for saving water in drought

Wed, May 18, 2016

Strict rules adopted at the height of California's drought leading many people to let their lawns turn brown may soon end as state regulators Wednesday consider ...

Nevada prepared for more Lake Mead cuts without ‘drastic steps’

Wed, May 11, 2016

Lake Mead is expected to surpass its historic low after next week. And as the elevation drops, Nevada, Arizona and California are working out a new framework for ...

Feds: EPA fails to protect water from oilfield contamination

Thu, Apr 14, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is failing in its mandate to protect underground drinking water reserves from oilfield contamination, according to a federal review singling out lax EPA oversight in ...

What’s in our water?

Mon, Mar 21, 2016

Southern Nevada water officials followed with interest the unfolding story of contaminated drinking water in Flint, Mich. It was a case study in what not to ...

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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