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. Continue reading

Dry Heat

As Lake Mead hits record lows and water shortages loom, Arizona prepares for the worst.

Last week, Lake Mead, which sits on the border of Nevada and Arizona, set a new record low—the first time since the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s that the lake’s surface has dipped below 1,080 feet above sea level. The West’s drought is so bad that official plans for water rationing have now begun—with Arizona’s farmers first on the chopping block. Yes, despite the drought’s epicenter in California, it’s Arizona that will bear the brunt of the West’s epic dry spell.

The huge Lake Mead—which used to be the nation’s largest reservoir—serves as the main water storage facility on the Colorado River. Amid one of the worst droughts in millennia, record lows at Lake Mead are becoming an annual event—last year’s low was 7 feet higher than this year’s expected June nadir, 1,073 feet.

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