Despite Current Efforts, More Measure Are Needed
Southern Nevada gets our water from the Colorado River, which as populations continue to swell, has been stretched beyond its capacity. After water conservation measures were adopted, this consumption has been greatly reduced, despite growth. As a result of initiatives the Las Vegas Valley region has reduced water consumption (down by 27 billion gallons per year in 2018 compared to 2002) it has done so despite a population increase. That amounts to a 38 percent decline in per capita water use, with a current usage of 124 gallons per day, per capita. source
No wonder Southern Nevada is considered a leader in water use reduction. Water conservation continues to remain the focus, with further reductions necessary to avoid a shortage declaration in 2021. But with such successes, how is it that this has not been avoided?
Will Cutbacks Become Mandatory?
Usage is only one part of the water problem. For Nevada the water issue is much more than usage. It is a two decade trend of drier regional climate and continually rising demands further down the river. In total the this single source of water is split between about 40 million people and 6,000 plus square miles of farmland over two countries. This is spread over seven states including native American reservations and northwestern Mexico.
The Impact On Nevada
A combination of international treaties, interstate agreements, and court rulings govern the rights to the water we use here in Nevada. Currently the Bureau of Reclamation forecast projects that by 2019 the surface of Lake Mead could fall below 1,075 feet above sea level, triggering cutbacks that would begin in 2020.
To Be Continued…Until 2026
Beyond the drought plan, in 2026, there will be a new plan. While legislation determine who gets what, hydrology, climate change, growth and demand will undoubtedly play a role.