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Record low water levels predicted for Lake Mead | News

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Record low water levels predicted for Lake Mead

LAS VEGAS -- California may be dealing with a statewide drought, but judging by a meeting held Tuesday by the Colorado River Commission, it looks like Nevada is the state that's in trouble.

A report released Tuesday predicts record lows for Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which is where the state gets 90 percent of its water. The water Nevada receives from the Colorado River also isn't helping much, and a lot of that has to do with the water rules that were established in the last century.

"We get the least allocation of the Colorado River, and that is based on treaties that are a century old and that's never going to change," said Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak.

The treaty didn't account Nevada's population growth. Even though Nevada's population has exploded in the past 30 years, the state only gets a 1.8 percent share of the water.

Nevada shares water with six other states and Mexico, but only so much is allocated. Compared to the other states and Mexico using the water from the Colorado River, Nevada has to do more with less.

Then the allocated water is set up into two groups and distributed throughout the state.

Most of it goes to residential customers, but the rest of the water is split between commercial and industrial companies for golf courses, resorts, schools, and parks.

The lack of snowfall in the Rockies has also added to the water issues around the state.

"We're not seeing good hydrology. The snowpack was good for a few months, but around March it tanked out, meaning we didn't get any snow, and it all melted on us," said Jayne Harkins, Executive Director of the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.

A lack of snow weakens the river.

"It just snowed in Denver the other day, but that's just not enough. We need storm after storm to really replace and replenish the water supply that we have," Harkins said

So until that happens, Nevadan must continue to conserve. Especially, considering the low levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell are expected to drop continually.

Experts say if Lake Mead is still below 1,075 feet in January, Nevada residents can expect to see shortages. There is a small silver lining in what seems like a worrisome report. Nevada has been conserving water, so should something like a shortage take place, the state won't feel it.

"It appears to be doom and gloom, but the Southern Nevada Water Authority has done a lot of work building the intake tunnel underneath the lake so we can get it at lower reservoir elevations," Harkins said.

Officials said water consumption in southern Nevada is down from last year 5 percent.

Commissioner Sisolak is also on the board of the Colorado River Commission. He credits the Southern Nevada Water Authority's conservation efforts for keeping us afloat.

The Colorado River Commission of Nevada can't impose restrictions on the amount of water Nevadan's use, the Southern Nevada Water Authority can by doing things such as limiting outdoor watering during the day.

To learn more about rebate programs available through the Southern Nevada Water Authority go here.


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