Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Las Vegas and the desert water pipeline

The city of Las Vegas wants to pump up to 300 billion litres of water a year out of the Nevada desert and transport it 480 kilometres south to the thirsty city.

In Las Vegas, where the population had been doubling every ten years, planners had an idea. What if there were a way of pumping the water towards Las Vegas? 

Water was ever an issue in the American west. For 100 years, Nevada and other south-western states have shared the waters of the Colorado river (and Lake Mead). 

But Lake Mead begins to decline in the past decade as Las Vegas expands. 

The city, which for years has been drawing more water from its Lake Mead reservoir than has been flowing in, could be at serious risk of going dry in 20 years, said Pat Mulroy, the manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. 

The city needed a new plan. When you have got a community of 2 million people and it is 90% reliant on the Colorado river you have to have a contingency plan, she said. The Water Authority has spent 79 million dollars to buy up water rights and they wants to pump up to 300 billion litres of water a year. A study last summer warning the pipeline would lower water tables in some valleys by up to 60 metres over the coming decades. Smaller springs would dry up completely and the animals that depend on them would die off.