Tag Archive for 'Las Vegas water supply'

Las Vegas Completing Last Straw to Draw Lake Mead Water

Photo retrieved from: www.abcnews.com

“It took $817 million, two starts, more than six years and one worker’s life to drill a so-called “Third Straw” to make sure glittery casinos and sprawling suburbs of Las Vegas can keep getting drinking water from near the bottom of drought-stricken Lake Mead.

The pipeline, however, won’t drain the largest Colorado River reservoir any faster. It’s designed to ensure that Las Vegas can still get water if the lake surface drops below two existing supply intakes.

“You turn on the tap, you don’t think about it,” said Noah Hoefs, a pipeline project manager for the Las Vegas-based Southern Nevada Water Authority. “These are the things being done in order to live the lifestyle we want in the places we want to live.”

It’s the latest example of ways the parched West is scrambling to deal with 15 years of unprecedented drought.

California is encouraging homeowners to rip out thirsty lawns and asking farmers to turn off spigots. And in New Mexico, a $550 million pipeline project would supply drinking water to several communities that run the risk of having wells go dry within a decade.

Las Vegas started in 1999 to conserve, reuse and replenish supplies. When Lake Mead water levels plummeted in 2002, regional water officials began drawing up plans for the pipeline.

“Unlike California and our other partners on the river, we are almost entirely reliant on Lake Mead,” said John Entsminger, water authority general manager. “We couldn’t afford to wait.”

Sin City gets about 90 percent of its drinking water from the lake behind Hoover Dam, itself an engineering marvel that cost the lives of about 100 workers during five years of construction before it was completed in 1936.

The need for the new pipeline can be seen in the wide white mineral band marking rock canyon walls where lake water has receded and the sun-bleached docks at abandoned marinas, left high and dry.

The water level has dropped almost the equivalent of a 20-story building since Lake Mead last topped the dam’s spillways in 1983.”

Read more: abc News


Water Authority Seeks More Groundwater From Two Rural Counties

Photo retrieved from: www.society.ezinemark.com

“During the hearing, we introduced a lot of new data,” water authority Deputy General Manager John Entsminger said. “We submitted the only new data collected in the period between the last ruling and this one.”

“King has until late March to rule on the bulk of the water the authority hopes to pipe to Las Vegas through a multibillion-dollar pipeline network stretching more than 300 miles. Most of the water would come from Spring Valley, a vast basin just west of Great Basin National Park.

In an unusual move, King asked the authority and other official participants in last year’s six-week hearing to write their own versions of how his final ruling should read.

The authority would get no water at all under most of the draft rulings penned by opponents of the pipeline project.”

Read more: Las Vegas-Review Journal

The drying of the West; The Colorado River and the civilisation it waters are in crisis

Photo retrieved from: TheEconomist.com

“In the northern states, its water supports cattle empires. In its southern stretch, especially in California’s Imperial County, the river irrigates deserts to produce America’s winter vegetables. And all along the way, aqueducts branch off to supply cities from Salt Lake City and Denver to Phoenix and Los Angeles. The metropolis closest to Lake Mead, Las Vegas, gets 90% of its water from this one source.

“That is why Las Vegas is a canary in the mine shaft, as Pat Mulroy, the boss of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, puts it. The Las Vegas valley gets its water through two long channels drilled through the rock. The first taps the lake at 1,050 feet (320 metres) above sea level, the second at 1,000 feet. Lake Mead’s water level is now near its record low, at 1,086 feet. Within a few years it could leave Las Vegas’s first intake, or even both, dry.

“The threat to Sin City is a good example of the four dimensions—physical, legal, political and cultural—of water in the West. For the physical, the standard response is to summon the engineers. Ms Mulroy already has them digging a third intake at 890 feet. Given the weight of the water on top, this is fiendishly difficult and will not be ready until 2014. Ms Mulroy also wants to pipe groundwater from the rural and wetter northern counties of Nevada to Las Vegas, but that has caused a vicious row.”

read more: The Economist