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.
A federal judge tapped the brakes Thursday but didn’t stop a
proposal for a massive and expensive water pipeline to draw
underground water from rural valleys along Nevada’s eastern
edge to supply the growing Las Vegas metropolitan area.
There was no electricity when Vickie Buchanan’s family came to
Diamond Valley in 1958. Nor were there many crops. But there
was water, and as early settlers, Vickie’s parents were given
priority access under a rule fundamental to Western water law:
“first in time, first in right.” A steady flow of farmers
followed, planting alfalfa and timothy hay grass in the
high-desert soil of the central Nevada valley.
This tour explored the Lower Colorado River where virtually every
drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from a
myriad of 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.
If and when Lake Mead hits 1,075 feet, the government will
declare a federal water shortage for the seven states that draw
water from the Colorado River, forcing Nevada and the others to
limit water use. … Despite the sobering predictions, former
Las Vegas water czar Pat Mulroy is confident life will go on in
The “Eagle has landed” moment came at the start of Wednesday’s
Southern Nevada Water Authority board meeting, when engineering
director Marc Jensen stood to announce what many people in the
room were already buzzing about.
Lingering drought has helped push Lake Tahoe’s water level
below its natural rim for the first time in five years, cutting
off flows into the Truckee River, which has been reduced to a
shallow stream as it meanders down the Sierra through Reno.
With an average annual rainfall of only 9 inches, water
conservation in Nevada is essential not only in drought years,
but every year. This 17-minute video features interviews with key
policy-makers who explain how important it is to develop a
conservation ethic for this desert state.
In the West, it is not a matter of if a drought will occur, but
when. In an effort to develop a drought-proof water supply, many
communities are turning to water recycling. Water recycling is
reusing treated wastewater for irrigating golf courses, other
urban landscapes, some crops, wetlands enhancement, industrial
processes and even groundwater recharge. But many people do not
understand how water is treated, recycled and reused, causing
some to oppose new projects.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Colorado River provides water to more than 35 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.
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.
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.