a severe drought
condition continuing over much of the west and increasing
population growth in the same areas, several western states
are introducing water conservation measures.
has joined the growing list of states now grappling with the
twin issues of growth and diminishing resources. Southern Nevada
is in the midst of the "ugliest drought" the
Colorado River Basin had experienced in 1400 years. The
consequences of the drought have been devastating to all communities
within the Colorado River Basin.
Nevada: Dropping Water Lines
bill introduced by Assemblywomen Sheila Leslie (D-Reno)
and Peggy Pierce (D-Las Vegas) would require the state
engineer to adopt goals for water conservation in all counties
in the state, provide a process and funding to clarify the status
of existing water rights, and require public hearings on any
interbasin water transfers.
The bill also would provide funding to conduct a water resource
inventory, and set up an interim committee to continue analyzing
water allocation and management.
"The management of our water resources is one of the most
critical issues facing our state today, and we all know there
are no easy answers where water management is concerned,"
"What's been missing from this debate at the legislative
level is the conservation perspective," Leslie said. "The
conservationist community has a very legitimate point of view.
It absolutely needs to be part of the discussion."
"I expect the water issue to be major, especially in my
rural district," a longtime rancher and six-term state
senator Dean Rhoads said. "Las Vegas is running
out of water, and Reno is starting to. I can see problems clear
up into Elko."
Rhoads represents the Northern Nevada Senatorial District, which
covers eight rural counties and a full three-quarters of the
state. He also serves with other rural Nevada stakeholders on
the water authority's Integrated Water Planning Committee. In
his 24-year legislative career, Rhoads said he has seen sessions
with more water measures on the table, "but nothing as
confrontational as this time around."
challenges would need to be met in terms of water demands and
identifying new water resources. Water quality will be an issue
in the years ahead. In the wake of the drought, water conservation
has achieved a heightened sense of importance in southern Nevada.
Mulroy, General Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)
notes: "We live in a desert. Las Vegas is the largest metropolitan
area in the driest desert of the United States. I think that's
a reality we need to appreciate."
Drought conditions had greatly affected the storage of water.
Lake Powell is currently at 51 percent of capacity, and Lake
Mead is at 63 percent of capacity. Kay Brothers, Deputy General
Manager, Engineering/Operations, SNWA, says that the lake level
had declined more than 60 feet in the last 3-4 years.
needs to be key to a sustainable future in southern Nevada as
well as the rest of the state.