Topic: Nevada

Overview

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 High Country News

Unprecedented fire, wind and snowmelt in the Southwest

It is mid-May, and a couple of days ago, the Hermits Peak Fire in northern New Mexico reached 299,565 acres in size, surpassing the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy Fire as the state’s largest wildfire on record. … It is mid-May, and a dozen other fires have already charred tens of thousands of acres across the West … It is mid-May, and the spring winds have been relentless … It is mid-May, and the temperature in Phoenix has reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit two days in a row.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Explainer: How cities in the West have water amid drought

As drought and climate change tighten their grip on the American West, the sight of fountains, swimming pools, gardens and golf courses in cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Boise, and Albuquerque can be jarring at first glance. Western water experts, however, say they aren’t necessarily cause for concern. Over the past three decades, major Western cities — particularly in California and Nevada — have diversified their water sources, boosted local supplies through infrastructure investments and conservation, and use water more efficiently. 

Aquafornia news Fox 10 - Phoenix

Lake Powell, producing energy to millions, majorly threatened by drought conditions

The water crisis in Arizona affects all of us. From our tap water to our crops, even our electricity. The supply is running short, so FOX 10’s Steve Nielsen headed to Lake Powell to investigate our ongoing water crisis and uncover what’s being done to safeguard our most important resource in the desert. … Lake Powell historical data in 2011 shows the water level was at 3,622 feet. It ebbs and flows a little bit every year, but there’s been a steep drop off the last two years. As of May 2022, the water level is sitting at 3,522.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Bodies pulled from parched Lake Mead stir wise-guy ghosts of Las Vegas

The [discoveries of human remains on the dry bed bed of Lake Mead] come amid the Southwest’s driest two decades in more than a thousand years, as drought-starved bodies of water yield one surprise after another. At Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico, a bachelor party stumbled across a fossilized mastodon skull that is millions of years old. In Utah last year, the receding waters of Lake Powell revealed a car that had plunged 600 feet off a cliff, killing the driver. And as Lake Powell dries up, archaeologists are getting a chance to study newly emerged Indigenous dwellings.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Grid monitor warns of U.S. blackouts in ’sobering report’

The central and upper Midwest, Texas and Southern California face an increased risk of power outages this summer from extreme heat, wildfires and extended drought, the nation’s grid monitor warned yesterday. In a dire new assessment, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) described regions of the country pushed closer than ever toward energy emergencies by a combination of climate change impacts and a transition from traditional fossil fuel generators to carbon-free renewable power.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Blog: The Colorado River faces a climate change-driven crisis

The Colorado River plays a pivotal role in the American West, supplying water to more than 40 million people, irrigating 5 million acres of farmland, and providing critical habitat for rare fish, birds and plants. But demand for the Colorado’s water far exceeds supply in the fast-growing Southwest, as a climate change-fueled megadrought and rising temperatures place an unprecedented strain on the iconic river, The Washington Post’s Karin Brulliard, Matt McClain and Erin Patrick O’Connor report.

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Aquafornia news USA Today

A body in a barrel, ghost towns, a crashed B-29: What other secrets are buried in Lake Mead?

A body in a barrel. Human bones along the shoreline. Ghost towns. A crashed B-29 Superfortress used to track cosmic rays. Prehistoric salt mines. What will the rapidly receding waters of Lake Mead reveal next? “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Travis Heggie, a former National Park Service official who has studied deaths at Lake Mead Recreation Area. “I’m expecting all sorts of criminal things to show up, and I mean a lot.”

Aquafornia news ABC News

Bodies surfacing in Lake Mead recall mob’s time in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is being flooded with lore about organized crime after a second set of human remains emerged within a week from the depths of a drought-stricken Colorado River reservoir just a 30-minute drive from the notoriously mob-founded Strip. … [B]oaters spotted the decomposed body of a man in a rusted barrel stuck in the mud of newly exposed shoreline. … A few days later, a second barrel was found by a KLAS-TV news crew, not far from the first. It was empty. On Saturday, two sisters from suburban Henderson who were paddle boarding on the lake near a former marina resort noticed bones on a newly surfaced sand bar …

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Warming is making the West thirstier, researchers say. And it’s stressing water supplies

Over the past four decades, the Western U.S. has demanded more water. And the landscapes — the valleys and mountains and lakes — that make up the region’s arid ecosystems have borne the impacts of increasing water needs in more ways than one. It’s not only fast-growing cities, searching for faraway supplies, that have affected these landscapes. The atmosphere itself has become thirstier, using up, and potentially evaporating, more water from the land beneath it. Researchers describe this as increased evaporative demand …

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Column: Wyoming wind power could reshape the American West

Reporting on clean energy from my kitchen table is one thing. Standing atop the Continental Divide — wind whipping at my face, construction workers grading roads nearby, pronghorn jogging across the sagebrush landscape — is something else entirely. … As we stood on Miller Hill — which is not named for the Anschutz executive — we looked west over lands where rainfall drains into the Little Snake River, later flowing into the Yampa River, the Green, the Colorado and eventually the Gulf of California — unless it’s diverted first to grow crops, or to provide drinking water for cities such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas.
Written by LA Times energy columnist Sammy Roth.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

To save water amid a megadrought, Las Vegas outlaws grass

Under a state law passed last year that is the first of its kind in the nation, patches of grass like this, found along streets and at housing developments and commercial sites in and around Las Vegas, must be removed in favor of more desert-friendly landscaping. The offense? They are “nonfunctional,” serving only an aesthetic purpose. Seldom, if ever, walked on and kept alive by sprinklers, they are wasting a resource, water, that has become increasingly precious.

Aquafornia news Western Water

As drought shrinks the Colorado River, a SoCal giant seeks help from river partners to fortify its local supply

Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies. Southern California’s giant wholesaler, Metropolitan Water District, claims a multi-billion-dollar water recycling proposal will not only create a new local source for its 19 million customers, but allow it to share part of its Colorado River supply …

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As Drought Shrinks the Colorado River, A SoCal Giant Seeks Help from River Partners to Fortify its Local Supply
Metropolitan Water District's wastewater recycling project draws support from Arizona and Nevada, which hope to gain a share of Metropolitan's river supply

Metropolitan Water District's advanced water treatment demonstration plant in Carson. Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies.  

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: Follow along on our clean energy tour of the American West

Over the last century, cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas reshaped the American West by building coal plants, hydropower dams and nuclear reactors to fuel their growth. Now those cities are on the verge of doing it again, only this time with solar panels, wind turbines, long-distance transmission lines and lithium mines. These proposals are igniting opposition from conservationists, tribal activists and rural residents looking to protect landscapes and ecosystems — and at times their way of life.

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Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Las Vegas turns on low-level Lake Mead pumps designed to avoid a ‘Day Zero’

The country’s largest man-made reservoir, Lake Mead, has dropped to such a historically low level that Las Vegas water officials have completed the process of turning on a pump station that will allow Southern Nevada to retrieve water, even under extreme conditions.  The move — to turn on the pump station full bore — is an indication of how low Lake Mead has fallen over the past decade and serves as a bulwark against the possibility of Las Vegas losing physical access to its water as regional issues on the Colorado River become increasingly dire.

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Aquafornia news Yale E360

A quiet revolution: Southwest cities learn to thrive amid drought

In the rolling hills around San Diego and its suburbs, the rumble of bulldozers and the whine of power saws fill the air as a slew of new homes and apartments rise up. The region is booming, its population growing at a rate of about 1 percent a year. This, in spite of the fact that Southern California, along with much of the West, is in the midst of what experts call a megadrought that some believe may not be a temporary, one-off occurrence, but a recurring event or even a climate change-driven permanent “aridification” of the West.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Feds try to slow quagga mussel spread using science and nature

For the past 15 years, federal agencies have tried to subdue growing populations of quagga mussels, an invasive species that interferes with water infrastructure and threatens ecosystems. Crews tried scrubbing the mollusks off equipment, power washing them off boats and deploying chlorine and UV lights to prevent them from settling in pipes. But the tiny mussels have not only resisted all deterrents, they’ve clogged cooling equipment, reduced water flow to hydropower and even changed the water quality, making it less suitable for native species.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Stumbling toward “day zero” on the Colorado River

The Colorado River Basin is inching ever closer to “Day Zero,” a term first used in Cape Town, South Africa when they anticipated the day in 2018 that taps would run dry. Lakes Powell and Mead, the Colorado River’s two enormous reservoirs, were full in 2000, storing more than four years of the river’s average annual flow. For more than two decades water users have been sipping at that supply, watching them decline. Long-term drought and climate change is making this issue potentially catastrophic.

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Aquafornia news New York Magazine

The multistate battle over the Colorado River

In March, the water level of Lake Powell declined below a threshold at which the Glen Canyon Dam’s ability to generate power becomes threatened, and the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that oversees the West’s water infrastructure, is working with the states above Lake Powell to divert more water to keep its dam operational. Meanwhile, the states around Lake Mead have been hashing out the details of a plan to voluntarily curtail their use to prevent even more dramatic cuts to Arizona and Nevada from going into effect next year.

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Aquafornia news Newsy

Las Vegas enforces new water restrictions

In the Southwestern U.S., the massive Lake Mead Reservoir near Las Vegas is not as massive as it used to be. The water level has dropped to near-record-low levels. Drought has reduced the flow of water into the river, which has forced communities to cut back. … The water authority targeted the lush green grass that’s not native to the desert, encouraging people to remove it. … At first, residents and businesses were slow to pull up their lawns. 

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Feds’ plan for depleted Colorado River helps Powell but hurts Mead

If the federal government goes through with its proposal to cut Colorado River releases from Lake Powell, water users in Arizona, California and Nevada won’t feel it this year — but Lake Mead will. Due to what some observers call an accounting trick, the reduced releases from Lake Powell wouldn’t translate into immediate cuts or deeper water shortages for the three Lower Basin states. Instead, the Interior Department’s plan would lower the already depleted Lake Mead to prop up the even more depleted Lake Powell…

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Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop 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, 30 tribal nations 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.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

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.

Tour

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.

Publication

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.

Publication

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.