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

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

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 ...

Ending in Nevada, runner aims to cover 1,000 miles in 7 deserts in 7 weeks

Sat, Mar 19, 2016

Long-distance runners are water-obsessed by necessity, but Mina Guli is on another level. She's trying to run more than 1,000 miles through seven deserts on seven continents in seven weeks ...

Sunday watering ban could save 900 million gallons a summer

Thu, Mar 17, 2016

Lawns in Southern Nevada will have to do without water — unless clouds unleash rain — one day a week during the summer. The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s board of ...

Forecasters say Lake Mead water shortage could be near

Fri, Mar 11, 2016

Federal forecasters say a warm, dry February has increased the chances that Lake Mead will have a water shortage by 2018. El Nino brought a snowy winter to the Rocky ...

Clark County Water Reclamation District is target of cyberattack

Mon, Mar 7, 2016

The Clark County Water Reclamation District computer system experienced a cyberattack late Friday night, a spokesman said. Numerous computers were shut down ...

Stormwater seen as California’s salvation

Tue, Feb 23, 2016

After a year in which Californians cut water use by 25 percent, stormwater has become the next front in what amounts to a fundamental restructuring of Southern California’s relationship with ...

Las Vegas summit: Water technologies among keys to sustainability

Wed, Feb 3, 2016

When MGM Resorts set out to build Park — its eight-acre promenade that will connect New York-New York and Monte Carlo — the company made water conservation a top priority ...

‘Week of Water’: How partnerships with Israel could be boon for Nevada

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 ...

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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