#Nevada conserves #LakeMead, but big cuts to the #ColoradoRiver still may come — The Las Vegas Review-Journal #COriver #aridification

SNWA intake #1 exposed April 2022. Photo credit: SNWA

Click the link to read the article on The Las Vegas Review-Journal website ( Colton Lochhead). Here’s an excerpt:

Federal officials’ call for massive cuts along the Colorado River has water managers in the American West scrambling to find common ground before the federal government comes down with its own proverbial hammer. It’s a blow Southern Nevada is well positioned to absorb, thanks to a two-decade head start on conservation and significant investments in infrastructure to ensure water continues to flow in the Las Vegas Valley even in the worst of conditions.

“We’re far and away the best positioned,” said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

For more than 20 years the authority has pushed for conservation efforts to reduce the valley’s water consumption. And those efforts have paid off. Nevada consumed 242,000 acre-feet of water in 2021, roughly about 80 percent of the 300,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water its entitled to annually under a series of agreements that stretch back 100 years. That’s more than 80,000 acre-feet, or about 27 million gallons, less than the Las Vegas Valley consumed in 2002 when there were 800,000 fewer residents.

Still, Lake Mead’s levels have continued to decline over the past two decades as a persistent drought has strained the Colorado River…

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said last week that climate-change-fueled shortages along the Colorado River basin will require additional cuts of 2 million to 4 million acre-feet next year to preserve critical levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

Entsminger doesn’t foresee outright limitations on development or growth amid those cuts. But the reductions along the river that supplies about 90 percent of Southern Nevada’s water could move up the need for future conservation efforts and will put a larger magnifying glass on what kinds of companies and businesses Southern Nevada can target for economic development.

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