Leaking Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas… apart from the water. As the following interactive chart from ProPublica shows, water usage in the greater Las Vegas region has more than doubled in the last 40 years and with the drought conditions, every reservoir is near record lows. Welcome To Las Vegas (while water supplies last).

Click here for large interactive version

Vegas Water History

1905    The Las Vegas Land and Water Company is formed to build and operate groundwater wells which the city then depended on for decades.

1922    The seven basin states sign the Colorado River Compact, estimating the river’s annual supply at 18 million acre-feet of water and dividing 15 million acre-feet between the northern and southern states. The river would eventually prove to flow with just 14.8 million acre-feet a year.

1941    A pipeline is constructed by Basic Management Inc., to take water from the Colorado River in Lake Mead and deliver it to Las Vegas for the first time.

1963    Supreme Court settles Arizona vs. California, deciding a key aspect of Western water law and allowing Arizona, Nevada and California to withdraw unlimited water from their tributary rivers without counting it against their share of the Colorado River, further straining the system’s supply.

1971    The first phase of construction on the Southern Nevada Water System is completed, enhancing Las Vegas’ reliance on the Colorado River for its water.

1990    Las Vegas’ daily water demand exceeds 300 million gallons per day.

1991    The Las Vegas Valley Water District receives a report warning the area will run out of water within five years. Pat Mulroy temporarily puts a moratorium on new building projects. Later that year the Southern Nevada Water Authority is formed, combining seven water districts in the Las Vegas Valley.

1999    Las Vegas’ maximum daily demand exceeds 400 million gallons.

2005    SNWA decides to build a third, lower intake tunnel from Lake Mead to ensure it can, as Mulroy said recently, “take the last drop” when water levels fall.

2014    Pat Mulroy retires after 26 years as Las Vegas’ top water official and having added significantly more water to the city’s annual supply. But the city is in its 15th year of drought, and the Water Authority projects its water demand will continue to rise beyond what the city is currently capable of providing.

Full article: Leaking Las Vegas (Zero Hedge)

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