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 CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Four things to know about Colorado River water in California

Southern California water districts are grappling with what the fallout could look like if supplies from a critical source — the rapidly drying Colorado River — are cut next year.  The US Bureau of Reclamation warned at a U.S. Senate hearing in mid-June that seven western states had 60 days to voluntarily reach a deal: Cut Colorado River water use by 2 to 4 million acre-feet in 2023 or face federally-mandated cuts instead. It’s a massive amount — at least seven times more than Nevada is entitled to in a year. … The Department of the Interior is expected today to address the status of the negotiations, the drought and future Colorado River conditions.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Tensions grow over lack of a water deal for the shrinking Colorado River

Two months ago, federal officials took the unprecedented step of telling the seven states that depend on Colorado River water to prepare for emergency cuts next year to prevent reservoirs from dropping to dangerously low levels. The states and managers of affected water agencies were told to come up with plans to reduce water use drastically, by 2 million to 4 million acre-feet, by mid-August. After weeks of negotiations, which some participants say have at times grown tense and acrimonious, the parties have yet to reach an agreement. The absence of a deal now raises the risk that the Colorado River crisis — brought on by chronic overuse and the West’s drying climate — could spiral into a legal morass.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Lakes Mead and Powell are at the epicenter of the biggest Western drought in history

Nowhere is the Southwest’s worst drought since the year 800 more evident than Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the pair of artificial Colorado River reservoirs whose plunging levels threaten major water and power sources for tens of millions of people. Already, the region is being forced to adapt to the sweeping effects of climate change, and the lakes and their surrounding area are nearing an environmental point of no return. … Lake Mead is projected to get down to 22 percent of its full capacity by year’s end, while Lake Powell is expected to drop to 27 percent, according to estimations from the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Both now sit at record lows.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

A century after the Colorado River was divided, tribes gain a voice

Tribal leaders stood proudly in front of a row of flags from the 10 Indigenous communities whose lands converge with the Colorado River. They spoke about their status as equal players in the future of the Colorado and the role they will play in the high-stakes negotiations to set new management protocols for the river that more than 40 million people depend upon for their lives and livelihoods. … They were part of tribal delegations from throughout the Colorado River Basin gathered in Las Vegas in December 2021 during the annual meeting of the Colorado River Water Users Association.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Reno hit with ‘torrential rainfall,’ Tahoe area affected by water

Anticipated bursts of intense rain soaking Reno this week prompted a flood watch from the National Weather Service. The phenomenon, known as a pulsing storm, is caused by a monsoonal flow that works its way up from the Gulf of California and even the Gulf of Mexico. When the monsoonal flow collides with high pressure, the result is “torrential rainfall,” said Heather Richards, meteorologist with NWS Reno. The effect was first felt Wednesday night when 1.22 inches of rain fell in just one hour at the Reno airport. This overwhelmed the drainage capabilities, flooded streams and washed out some downtown streets.

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Aquafornia news CBS News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Millions at risk of power and water shortages as two of the nation’s largest reservoirs on the brink of “dead pool status,” U.N. warns

Millions of people in the Western U.S. are at risk of seeing reduced access to both water and power as two of the nation’s biggest reservoirs continue to dry up inch by inch. The United Nations issued a warning on Tuesday that the water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at their lowest ever and are getting perilously close to reaching “dead pool status.” Such a status means that the water levels are so low that water can’t flow downstream to power hydroelectric stations. At Lake Mead, located in Nevada and Arizona, the country’s largest artificial body of water, levels have gotten so low that it’s essentially become a graveyard – human remains, dried-out fish and a sunken boat dating back to World War II …

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Aquafornia news Fox News

Las Vegas ‘water cops’ patrol for water wasters amid unprecedented drought

The drought in the west has gotten so bad that bodies, World War II boats and other artifacts have resurfaced at Lake Mead, about 30 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. As the water dries up, so-called “water cops” are going after anybody who’s wasting it. Water waste investigators with the Las Vegas Valley Water District patrol the roads and neighborhoods every day to hunt for violations like broken sprinklers and excess watering.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Opinion: Reducing consumptive water use must be our main focus to safeguard Southern Nevada’s economic stability

I have lived in Las Vegas and have worked in the development industry for 30 years. Since day one, water has been an important issue. The current volume of Lake Mead compared to years prior is clear evidence there is a serious water issue. Residents, businesses and all those who depend on the Colorado River should be paying close attention to the facts and focusing on conservation policies that will help ensure we utilize our water in the most responsible way possible to preserve our future.
-Written by Nat Hodgson, CEO of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada’s Natural Resources acting director on collaboration, drought, smart-from-the-start planning

With hundreds of full-time employees, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is one of the state’s largest agencies, responsible for a wide array of activities, from overseeing state parks and wildland fire crews to regulating industrial pollution and managing water rights. Earlier this month, the agency got a new leader. Gov. Steve Sisolak appointed Jim Lawrence, who has worked at the agency since 1998, to serve as the acting director. … The leadership change comes at a time when the state — and the region — face a number of ongoing interconnected environmental issues, including a prolonged drought that has strained water supplies, pressures on public land, increasingly risky wildfire behavior and extreme heat.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: A painful deadline nears as Colorado River reservoirs run critically low

States in the Colorado River basin are scrambling to propose steep cuts in the water they’ll use from the river next year, in response to a call by the federal government for immediate, drastic efforts to keep the river’s main storage reservoirs from reaching critically low levels. The request comes with the Southwest still in the grip of a severe two-decade drought that shows no signs of letting up…. [E]xperts in Western water issues writing Thursday in the journal Science say significant policy changes could stabilize the river over the long term, even if the drought continues. But concessions that “may be unthinkable at the moment” must be implemented soon, they wrote.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Drought drives Las Vegas to cap size of home swimming pools

Limiting the size of new swimming pools in and around Las Vegas might save a drop in the proverbial bucket amid historic drought and climate change in the West. Officials are taking the plunge anyway, capping the size of new swimming pools at single-family residential homes to about the size of a three-car garage. Citing worries about dwindling drinking water allocations from the drying-up Lake Mead reservoir on the depleted Colorado River, officials in Clark County voted this week to limit the size of new swimming pools to 600 square feet (56 square meters) of surface area.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun 

Las Vegas water district OKs proposal for pool-size limits 

The Clark County Commission approved a new measure to mitigate the falling water level of Lake Mead on Tuesday, limiting residential pool sizes in the Las Vegas area. The commission Tuesday unanimously approved a new ordinance prohibiting the Las Vegas Valley Water District from serving residents with pools with a total surface area of over 600 square feet. The new code will only apply to single-family residential customers who received a pool permit for their “pool(s), spa(s), and/or water feature(s)” after Sept. 1, 2022.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: What will happen if Lake Mead dries up? Look to the Salton Sea.

Recently, historic record-low water volume in Lake Mead and Lake Powell has been headline news. While the trend of dropping water levels at two of the nation’s largest water reservoirs has been widely recognized for years (perhaps decades), a discussion about what it truly means for those who rely on its source for water and electricity downstream is rarely heard. Lake Mead’s water level continues to fall to historic lows, bringing the reservoir less than 150 feet away from “dead pool” — so low that water cannot flow downstream from the dam. The loss of water entirely from this source would be catastrophic.
-Written by Richard Thomas, a retired business owner and author in La Mesa. 

Aquafornia news CNN

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Lake Mead forecast: More Southwest water cuts likely in 2023

More extreme water cuts are all but certain in the Southwest starting next year – including new water cuts for California – according to the latest government forecast for the Colorado River and Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir. Lake Mead, which provides water to roughly 25 million people in Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico, is losing water at an alarming rate amid an extraordinary, multi-year drought made worse by the climate crisis.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

They sounded alarms about a coming Colorado River crisis. But warnings went unheeded

The Colorado River is approaching a breaking point, its reservoirs depleted and western states under pressure to drastically cut water use. It’s a crisis that scientists have long warned was coming. Years before the current shortage, scientists repeatedly alerted public officials who manage water supplies that the chronic overuse of the river combined with the effects of climate change would likely drain the Colorado’s reservoirs to dangerously low levels. But these warnings by various researchers — though discussed and considered by water managers — went largely unheeded.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Times photographer embarked on a watershed journey

It was late 2020, less than a year into the pandemic, but Luis Sinco wasn’t thinking about COVID-19. He was overwhelmed by catastrophe. Fires were burning, glaciers were melting, and the West was again in drought. But from talking to his kids and friends and people around him, the award-winning Times photographer sensed little dire urgency, little connection between the climate crisis and the routines of everyday life. … [Sinco] set off on his own. In between assignments, he traveled roughly 1,500 miles, from the river’s headwaters in the Rocky Mountains down to where the Colorado once regularly reached its terminus, in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

The monsoon is delivering desperately needed rain to the Southwest

For about three months every year, the Desert Southwest turns into a magical landscape of pastel hues, arcing bolts of electricity and oases of life in an otherwise sandy, cactus-studded chaparral. Some communities pick up half of their annual rainfall in a few short afternoons, while others flood as dry arroyos transform into gushing rapids. The culprit? The Southwest monsoon — a seasonal wind shift that pumps both Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean moisture northward to New Mexico, Arizona and parts of Southern California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. 

As Drought Shrinks the Colorado River, A SoCal Giant Seeks Help from River Partners to Fortify its Local Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: 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.  

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.