Las Vegas Sun

June 18, 2024

Currently: 103° — Complete forecast

For Want <em>of</em> Water

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— 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

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A $700 million investment from the federal government will fund water conservation projects across Nevada, California and Arizona to protect the Colorado River’s water supply ...

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A proposed lithium mine in Esmeralda County that poses a threat to a rare desert wildflower could also damage the Silver Peak Range Mountains and Fish Lake Valley ...

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Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

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Native American tribes give unanimous approval to proposal securing Colorado River water

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The Navajo Nation Council has signed off on a proposed settlement that would ensure water rights for its tribe and two others in the drought-stricken Southwest -- a deal that ...

Maintaining water security for Las Vegas a constant challenge, experts say

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Marco Velotta, chief sustainability officer for the city of Las Vegas, said the City of Las Vegas’ decisions around water use all contend with the long drought that’s consumed the ...

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Nevada lawmakers back bill that aims to free up Hoover Dam funding

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Everything about the Hoover Dam, hailed as an engineering marvel of the 20th century, is massive. Now the 89-year-old structure is due for some massive maintenance ...

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A parasite dangerous to dogs was discovered in a California section of the Colorado River & local experts aren’t raising any red flags about canines being at risk when visiting ...

Does quest for minerals needed for clean energy endanger water supply?

Mon, Mar 18, 2024

Kevin DesRoberts watches as speckled dace and Amargosa pupfish dart through one of the springs at the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a sight environmentalists are working to save. ...

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 ...