Lake Mead supplies water to southern Nevada, Arizona, and California. Due to drought, an official shortage may happen in 2020. This would trigger reductions in allocations. Arizona would be worst hit. It has no plan due to internal squabbling, desperately needs to get a clue and a plan quickly, and to conserve more water. California banks water in Lake Mead and will withdraw it if a new plan isn’t reached soon, exacerbating the shortage. Yeah, it’s complicated.
As for Vegas. Everyone thinks we are water pigs. Quite the opposite. Vegas reuses and recycles all indoor water and has been toilet-to-tap for years. Further it consistently uses less than its allocation from the Colorado and thus is in far better shape than other cities that get water from the Colorado.
“Southern Nevada is in control of its destiny for two reasons,” he said.
In recent years, the water authority has invested in a third intake and a low-level pumping station that will allow it to continue to take water from Lake Mead if the reservoir drops below dead pool, the point at which no water can be released from Hoover Dam downstream.
He also touted the water authority’s push to save water through conservation.
Nevada is entitled to use 300,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River each year, but it’s net consumption is currently around 240,000 acre-feet, Entsminger noted. As a result, there is more than enough room in the system to absorb the 30,000 acre-feet cut in the drought plan.
“Our delivery mechanism is guaranteed under all hydrologic conditions,” Entsminger said. “That’s not true for anyone downstream of us. From a physical water security standpoint, Las Vegas is better off than any other metropolitan area that takes water from the Colorado River.”