Nevada officials submit proposals for Lake Mead cuts
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Southern Nevada Water Authority is speaking out about how it believes the Southwest can save Lake Mead and hundreds of billions of gallons of water every year, submitting its ideas to the Bureau of Reclamation.
The feds have asked for Southern Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico to collaborate and submit ideas by late January. The feds have instructed the Southern members of the Colorado River Agreement to find ways to cut two to four million acre-feet of water. One acre-foot equates to 325,000 gallons.
One proposal involves escalating when further restrictions kick in, with the purpose of slowing the decline of the lake’s elevation. Currently, more cuts are implemented when Lake Mead reaches an elevation of 1,025 feet; the SNWA proposes, in 2024, those stricter measures kick in at 1,090 feet.
“Those shortages are not big enough to slow Lake Mead’s decline fast enough. So we need to be taking larger reductions sooner,” said Colby Pellegrino, SNWA deputy general manager of resources.
The SNWA also proposes that every member state takes into account “evaporation losses” into its total use and allocation—and in its research, finds the losses are significant.
In its research, the SNWA found that 1.5 million acre-feet of water disappear yearly as it flows through the five reaches into Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico. A total of 771,486 acre-feet disappear en route to Southern California, 471,091 acre-feet en route to Arizona, 352,926 acre-feet en route to Mexico, and 17,570 acre-feet en route to Southern Nevada.
According to Pellegrino, evaporation is part of the natural process of the river system, and member states must plan for it.
“The Bureau of Reclamation has stated that there needs to be two to 4 million acre-feet a year in permanent reductions. And really, whether it’s evaporation or something else, what our goal is, bringing our water use significantly more in line with what Mother Nature’s supplying,” she said.
Pellegrino answered a common question: Is Nevada doing more than the other partners for water conservation?
“That’s one of the most common questions we get.
I think what’s different in communities is the way that they’re able to adapt,” she said, noting efforts from other agencies amid surging population growth.
The SNWA does want the feds to recognize how Southern Nevada uses less than their allocation, plans for it, and preserves their allocations.
“So as long as our water use remains below, whatever that threshold is from our allocation, then this community doesn’t have to take last minute actions to be able to adapt, like other communities on the river,” she said.
“So that’s the buffer that we’ve created for this community. Other communities don’t have that buffer,” Pellegrino said.
The SNWA also wants assurances from the feds that Nevada’s surplus does not get used by different states. Nevada owns 1 million acre-feet of water in Lake Mead.
The feds will make their decision on water cuts, this summer.
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