Nevada uses least amount of water from Lake Mead

Southern Nevada uses least amount of water from Lake Mead
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 8:01 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Striking new images show just how much the drought has affected Lake Mead, spokesperson from Southern Nevada Water Authority breaks down which states use the most and the least.

This week, NASA released new satellite photos of water loss at Lake Mead from July 2000 to July 2022.

State Climatologist and faculty member from the University of Reno, Steph McAfee, said she looks at Lake Mead elevation data every month, but even the satellite images were striking.

“It’s not new news and I was shocked to see that satellite imagery. It’s one thing to know something and another thing to see it happen in front of you,” McAfee said.

Spokesperson and Outreach Manager for SNWA, Bronson Mack, went in depth into water use data.

“So when we see these images of Lake Mead over time and especially when their compared to Las Vegas growing during that same time period- well it’s a bit of a misnomer there,” Mack said.

While the Las Vegas valley has grown, we’ve done so by using less water.

“Since 2002, when this drought started, our community has reduced its consumption of water from Lake Mead by 26% and we did that at the same time that our community increased in population by more than 750,000 people,” Mack said.

Currently the Las Vegas valley is the smallest user of water from the lake.

Three states and the country of Mexico uses water from the lake. Mack explained they all get a different allocation, a legal entitlement.

“California, it gets the largest share. 4.4 million acre-feet of water is available to California. Arizona gets about 2.8 million acre-feet. The country of Mexico, 1.5 million and us right here in Southern Nevada we get 300,000 acre-feet,” Mack said.

In the the Bureau of Reclamation’s water use report, it breaks down the exact numbers each entity consumed in 2021.

California: 4,404,727

Arizona: 2,425,736

Nevada: 242,168

Mexico: 1,455,061

Earlier this year the federal government issued the first Tier of water cuts that do affect Arizona and Nevada.

“Just last year Lake Mead hit that trigger of elevation. As a result of that Southern Nevada had to reduce water that it was allowed to take from Lake Mead. Arizona also had to reduce its amount of water that it was able to take from Lake Mead. But even with that our community had done such a good job conserving that we were well prepared to be able to absorb those cuts without having to make any further, drastic conservation measures at that time,” Mack said.

He also explained Arizona and California made an agreement decades ago that has relevance today.

“The California delegation worked out an agreement with Arizona where by they would support funding the Central Arizona Project in return for Arizona taking California’s shortages should Lake Mead or the Colorado River ever end up in a shortage condition. Where here we are today and in the 2000′s we are in a shortage condition now and as a result of that Arizona is taking California’s shortages,” Mack said.

Even though the water authority has implemented a progressive water conservation system, Mack said there’s still more we need to do.

Starting September 1st, the fall watering system goes is into effect. Residents must change their sprinkler clocks and water on assigned days.

“Only about 60% of our valley complies with the seasonal watering restrictions,” Mack said.

To find out your watering day group, visit SWNA.