Topic: Nevada



As adjacent Western states, California and Nevada share similar issues related to drought and limited water resources. Both states are participants in the 1922 Colorado River Compact and the 2003 and 2007 Quantification Settlement Agreements to allocate Colorado River deliveries. Also, about two-thirds of Lake Tahoe lies in California and one-third in Nevada, and the two states have formed a compact to work together on environmental goals for the lake.

Aquafornia news Mount Shasta News

U.S. Forest Service water management: Limited oversight of diversions

While the U.S. Forest Service pours resources into a runaway battle on wildfire, it is losing the war over water.  About half of Western water supply originates on national forest land. But before that water reaches the West’s major cities or great rivers, much of it has already been claimed. Thousands of farmers, ranchers, cities, housing developments and industrial users pump water from the ground, channel it away from streams into ditches or pipelines, and hold it back in ponds and reservoirs — all to use public water, often for private purposes. 

Aquafornia news Ripon Advance

Blog: Committee OKs Moore’s bill to manage saline lake ecosystems

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday approved a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) to better manage conservation efforts for saline lake ecosystems and migratory birds in the West. … The Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act of 2021, H.R. 5345, which Rep. Moore introduced on Sept. 23 with lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), would authorize the director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to establish a regional program to assess, monitor and benefit the hydrology of saline lakes in the Great Basin …

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

TV report: Vegas-area sewage spilled into creek to Lake Mead

A big southern Nevada sewage pumping facility failed last year, spewing an estimated 500,000 gallons of wastewater and leaking into a creek that leads toward the Lake Mead reservoir on the Colorado River, a television station investigation found. Officials want to spend $40 million to rehabilitate the Clark County Water Reclamation District wastewater lift station, where the January 2020 spill was blamed on a corroded underground pipe, KLAS-TV in Las Vegas reported.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

What the infrastructure bill means for water in Nevada and the West

On Monday, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, legislation that is expected to send more than $4 billion to Nevada. The funds are earmarked to address a variety of different infrastructure needs, including roads, public transportation and cybersecurity. … Under the bill, over the next five years, Nevada could receive about $405 million to fund water projects that focus on everything from fixing aging infrastructure to ensuring access to clean drinking water.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California, Arizona and Nevada in talks on new plan to save Colorado River water

Two and a half years after signing a deal aimed at averting a damaging crisis along the Colorado River, water officials from California, Arizona and Nevada are discussing plans to take even less water from the shrinking river and leave it in Lake Mead in an effort to prevent the reservoir from falling to dangerously low levels. … For California, the deal would mean participating in water reductions prior to Lake Mead reaching levels that would otherwise trigger mandatory cuts.

Aquafornia news KLAS - Las Vegas

I-Team: ‘Colorado River Compact’ continues to limit how much water Nevada receives

Approximately 40 million people rely on the Colorado River for water, 5% of them, or 2 million are in Nevada. However, the state gets only 1.8% of the river’s water. How did this happen? In 1922, Nevada signed onto the Colorado River Compact. It divided the river between the upper basin (part of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) and the lower basin (the rest of Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico). … Nevada getting the least, while more than half of the water goes to two states: California and Colorado.

Aquafornia news KRDO - Colorado Springs

A Water Crisis: Colorado agriculture facing changes as drought continues

An estimated 40 million people rely on water that originates in the Colorado River Basin, but the river can no longer keep up with demand, and it’s raising serious questions about the future of water in the west. Surrounded by bright orange pumpkins and empty shanks of corn outside his store east of Pueblo, Shane Milberger surveys his field.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Drought uncovers long-ago family homestead site hidden beneath Lake Mendocino

Andy Mattern knew exactly what he was looking for as he scanned the receding edges of Lake Mendocino. Finally, he spotted the tops of a handful of wooden stakes protruding from the mud and bird droppings along the shoreline. Cut from virgin redwood almost a century earlier, those stakes had been driven into the ground by his grandfather, Lorenzo Fracchia, to support his grapevines. That was early in the 20th century, when there was no lake. Coyote Valley was home to a vibrant young settlement of immigrants from northern Italy…

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Lake Mead water level to be bolstered by $100M plan

States in the lower Colorado River basin are developing a $100 million plan that will leave more water in Lake Mead over the next couple of years. The goal is to keep the lake from hitting a critical level that would leave the reservoir more vulnerable to rapid decline. … The negotiations between Nevada, Arizona, California and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for additional reductions in water use come just months after the federal government declared Lake Mead’s first water shortage.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Touton confirmed as commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation

Camille Touton of Nevada was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday to be commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water management of the Colorado River in Western states. Democratic and Republican senators approved President Joe Biden’s nominee on a voice vote. Touton, of Filipino ancestry, moved as a child to Nevada.

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Aquafornia news Audubon

Opinion: Audubon’s Marcelle Shoop submits testimony in support of saline lakes bill

In the arid West, saline lakes and their wetlands form an irreplaceable network of habitats that support millions of migrating shorebirds, waterfowl and other waterbirds throughout their annual travels. These lakes and their wetlands – from emergent marshes to playas and mudflats – are part of the habitat mosaic essential to many bird species. Saline lakes are sometimes referred to as terminal lakes because they are situated at the bottom of a watershed basin.
-Written by Marcelle Shoop, Audubon’s Saline Lakes Program Director.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: The Colorado River poses stark example of climate crisis

As world leaders meet in Scotland this week to discuss efforts to address the climate crisis, experts are urging greater focus on adapting to fundamental shifts in the planet’s water supplies — and they’re pointing to the Colorado River as a prime example. The river, a vital water source for about 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, has continued to shrink and send reservoirs declining toward critically low levels after years of extremely dry conditions compounded by hotter temperatures. … [T]he river’s plight stands out as one of the world’s starkest cases of a major water source that is being ravaged by the altered climate…

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun News

Editorial: Lake Tahoe’s grim outlook is all the more reason to fight climate change

While Las Vegas residents watch nervously as the water level falls at Lake Mead, our fellow Nevadans are also seeing the alarming effects of climate change on Lake Tahoe. In both cases, it’s a call for action on reducing global warming. Southern Nevadans are well aware of the situation at Lake Mead, which has reached historically low levels, but they may not be as familiar with the problems at Lake Tahoe. In a nutshell, climate change has disrupted weather patterns there to the point of causing the lake to drop below its natural rim … 

Aquafornia news BuzzFeed News

Colorado River shortage creates Arizona water crisis

Farmers in Pinal County, Arizona, knew they were taking a risk nearly two decades ago when they agreed to be among the first people to lose water from the Colorado River if there were a shortage. … But in the Southwest’s arid landscape, it is no longer certain how much people can rely on the Colorado River. A 22-year megadrought and growing demands across the Colorado River Basin have depleted the river, pushing Western reservoirs to historic lows and triggering the first-ever federally declared water shortages. For Western states, this means cuts.

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Aquafornia news KUNC

The West needs a lot of snow to escape drought. This year, that’s unlikely

Growers in the West have persisted through the ups and downs of dry years for a long time, but a two-decades-long trend of drought in the region is now entrenching itself with no clear end in sight. This year is unlikely to bring any major relief. Forecasters say this winter will be shaped by “La Niña,”…Its effects are hardly guaranteed, but typically mean a colder, wetter winter for the northwestern portion of the country, and a warmer, drier winter in the Southwest. The dividing line often falls in the middle of Colorado.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Free platform tracks agricultural water across West

A new online platform launched yesterday that uses satellites to estimate water consumed by crops and evapotranspiration across the West. Called OpenET, the platform makes water management data available in 17 western states. Data on the amount of water used in agriculture has been fragmented and often expensive, keeping it out of the hands of many farmers and decision-makers. OpenET hopes to allow users to easily view and download important water data. 

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Aquafornia news 60 Minutes - CBS News

Southwest states facing tough choices about water as Colorado River diminishes

This past week, California declared a statewide drought emergency. It follows the first-ever federal shortage declaration on the Colorado River, triggering cuts to water supplies in the Southwest. The Colorado is the lifeblood of the region. It waters some of the country’s fastest-growing cities, nourishes some of our most fertile fields and powers $1.4 trillion in annual economic activity.

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Aquafornia news KTNV - Las Vegas

Monday Top of the Scroll: VP Kamala Harris to visit Lake Mead Monday, talk climate change

Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Southern Nevada on Monday and is scheduled to talk about climate change and investing in climate resilience. … Harris is expected to emphasize that water shortages have a ripple effect on U.S. farmers, food supply, and economy – and that climate change will continue to make extreme weather including droughts and heat more frequent, costly, and harmful, according to the White House communications team.

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As Climate Change Turns Up The Heat in Las Vegas, Water Managers Try to Wring New Savings to Stretch Supply
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Rising temperatures are expected to drive up water demand as historic drought in the Colorado River Basin imperils Southern Nevada’s key water source

Las Vegas has reduced its water consumption even as its population has increased. Las Vegas, known for its searing summertime heat and glitzy casino fountains, is projected to get even hotter in the coming years as climate change intensifies. As temperatures rise, possibly as much as 10 degrees by end of the century, according to some models, water demand for the desert community is expected to spike. That is not good news in a fast-growing region that depends largely on a limited supply of water from an already drought-stressed Colorado River.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

With Drought Plan in Place, Colorado River Stakeholders Face Even Tougher Talks Ahead On The River’s Future
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Talks are about to begin on a potentially sweeping agreement that could reimagine how the Colorado River is managed

Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, shows the effects of nearly two decades of drought. Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2020
Field Trip - March 11-13

This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Silverton Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Domino Effect: As Arizona Searches For a Unifying Voice, a Drought Plan for the Lower Colorado River Is Stalled
EDITOR'S NOTE: Finding solutions to the Colorado River — or any disputed river —may be the most important role anyone can play

Nowhere is the domino effect in Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River, and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan. Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying voice between its major water players, an effort you can read more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.

Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within California.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

As Colorado River Levels Drop, Pressure Grows On Arizona To Complete A Plan For Water Shortages
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: A dispute over who speaks for Arizona has stalled work with California, Nevada on Drought Contingency Plan

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors, California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water levels in Lake Mead before they run too low.

If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level, the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1 million households in one year.


Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River: Living with Risk, Avoiding Curtailment
Fall 2017

This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water managers and others are trying to face the future. 

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues. 

Maps & Posters

Nevada Water Map
Published 2004

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the environment. It features natural and manmade water resources throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River that forms the state’s eastern boundary.

Maps & Posters Colorado River Bundle

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

Redesigned in 2017, this beautiful map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. Text on this beautiful, 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts.


Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water
Published 2006

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada. It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and today’s water supply challenges.


Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2018

Cover page for the Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River .

The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.

Western Water Magazine

An Era of New Partnerships on the Colorado River
November/December 2013

This printed issue of Western Water examines how the various stakeholders have begun working together to meet the planning challenges for the Colorado River Basin, including agreements with Mexico, increased use of conservation and water marketing, and the goal of accomplishing binational environmental restoration and water-sharing programs.

Western Water Magazine

Remnants of the Past: Management Challenges of Terminal Lakes
January/February 2005

This issue of Western Water examines the challenges facing state, federal and tribal officials and other stakeholders as they work to manage terminal lakes. It includes background information on the formation of these lakes, and overviews of the water quality, habitat and political issues surrounding these distinctive bodies of water. Much of the information in this article originated at the September 2004 StateManagement Issues at Terminal Water Bodies/Closed Basins conference.