Las Vegas Sun

May 3, 2016

Currently: 80° — 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

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Thu, Mar 17, 2016

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Clark County Water Reclamation District is target of cyberattack

Mon, Mar 7, 2016

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Tue, Feb 23, 2016

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Las Vegas summit: Water technologies among keys to sustainability

Wed, Feb 3, 2016

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Tue, Feb 2, 2016

Israel, once facing a dire water crisis, turned the tide by making water a matter of national security. The desert country launched successful desalination programs, significantly boosted water reuse rates ...

With second ‘Week of Water’ event set this week, here’s what’s at stake for Southern Nevada

Tue, Feb 2, 2016

Protecting Southern Nevada's water supply is one of several challenges facing experts who will gather Wednesday in Las Vegas for a second conference in what's been coined the "Week of ...


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