Lake Mead Shrinking: Las Vegas Water Supply In Critical Shortage

Lake Mead, which provides hydration to 20 million people in southern Nevada, southern California and Arizona, is shrinking. So much so that since 2000 it has actually lost 4 trillion gallons of water.

The general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Pat Mulroy, has explained how the water has rescinded so dramatically that “a whole marina” of boats that used to cover the lake has been forced to move away.

So how did this drought begin? It’s believed to have started 14 years ago, and it has been exacerbated by the fact that the Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead, is drying up too.

Mulroy has confirmed that it has now reached a “critical point.” He continued, “The rate at which our weather patterns are changing is so dramatic that our ability to adapt to it is really crippled.”

It doesn’t look like this ordeal is going to get any better in the future, eithe; experts have predicted that Lake Mead will drop at least another 20 feet over the next 12 months. If this occurs, then Nevada and Arizona’s water supply will be automatically cut.

Las Vegas will be hit hardest by this outcome, because 90 percent of their water supply comes from Lake Mead. They’re currently in the midst of adding a third intake pipe, that will drop deep into the water, after it was revealed that at least of the city’s two current pipes will soon be above water. This project will hopefully be concluded next year, and will cost $817 million.

J.C. Davis, the spokesperson for this construction, stated, “We’re really scrambling to make sure that this intake is done in time before we lose our first intake. Without Lake Mead, there would be no Las Vegas.”

Mulroy stated,”All of us are in it together, and all of us are either going to survive this or all of us are going to feel the consequences.”

Mark Clark, a Bullhead City council member and manager of the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District, admitted that Lake Mead is currently only 48 percent full, before conceding, “It’s almost a certainty that a shortage will be declared in 2016 at this point.”

Currently, Las Vegas employs stringent rules and regulations over the use of water in the city. It reuses 93 percent of its water, and has paid $200 million to its homeowners who have then ripped up their thirsty gardens. Plus, despite the fact that the city’s population has actually increased by over 400,000 over the last decade, Las Vegas has still managed to reduce its water use by 33 percent during this time.

However, its most testing period looks set to be only a few, short months away.

[Image via Tanawat Pontchour/Shutterstock]