Las Vegas is planning for a reduced share of #ColoradoRiver water over time

Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands -- Graphic/USBR
Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands — Graphic/USBR

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Sin City is preparing for a time when it might have to go without. Without its full share of Colorado River water, that is. “We’re planning for a future without access to our (Colorado River) compact entitlement,” John Entsminger, senior deputy general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, told about 200 people at the Colorado River Water Conservation District’s water seminar Friday at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Las Vegas is far from profligate with its use of water from the Colorado, Entsminger said. Not only is all the water used indoors on the famous Las Vegas Strip treated and returned to nearby Lake Mead, the city has instituted significant conservation efforts, Entsminger said. As a result, its water use fell from 325,000 acre feet of water in 2002 to 222,000 acre feet in 2012 while the city population grew by 400,000. Part of the reason for that is high water rates that put Las Vegas in the top 15 percent of western cities, he said.

Las Vegas, meanwhile, has started its own transbasin diversions of water from within the state and is working with other lower-basin states on projects to desalinate salt water, he said.

The state’s Colorado River water is pivotal for 70 percent of the state’s economy, Entsminger said.

Las Vegas uses most of the state’s 350,000 acre feet of water, a portion of the 7.5 million acre feet of water the upper basin of the Colorado River is required to deliver annually to the lower basin.

More coverage of the Colorado River District’s September 13 seminar from Gary Harmon writing for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

A call by Grand Valley water users for the Front Range to seek out water supplies other than from the Western Slope can’t work, the new head of the Colorado Water Conservation Board said. Augmenting the amount of water available from another basin might be technically feasible but it would be futile in the face “of political and practical reality,” James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said Friday at a water seminar sponsored by the Colorado River Water Conservation District. About 200 people attended the seminar at Two Rivers Convention Center.

Grand Valley water officials fashioned their call for eastern Colorado to find new sources of water in response to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s call for a statewide water plan, to be complete by December 2015.

While it would be impossible to import water, Eklund said there are still possibilities to make better use of water within the state. “We can solve our problems in Colorado,” he said in an interview, noting that additional storage will be considered in the drafting of a statewide water plan.

Colorado is projected to grow to 7 million residents by 2030, Eklund said, calling for water officials around the state to confront skepticism and work together. People are skeptical of a statewide water plan because they fear what might happen to existing water law, but they have to seek out ways to meet in-state demands and to avoid federal interference. he said.

“The water landscape has shifted,” Eklund said. “If we want to have a different future for Colorado, it won’t happen by accident.” Coloradans, he said, in the meantime, will draw together in the face of disastrous flooding on the Front Range, especially in Boulder County.

“We’ll pull together to face this,” Eklund said.

Eklund, a Grand Junction native with family roots in Collbran and Cedaredge, was appointed to head the state water agency this year after having served as the senior deputy legal counsel to Hickenlooper and as an assistant state attorney general.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

2 thoughts on “Las Vegas is planning for a reduced share of #ColoradoRiver water over time

  1. Your article states 350,000 ac-ft/yr as allotment for Las Vegas Valley. This is in error. The allotment for Nevada is 300,000 and the unofficial allotment for Las Vegas Valley is around 275,000.
    This highlights the challenge we face here. As more water is taken from non-Las Vegas Valley entities, less water is unofficially alloted for Las Vegas Valley.

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