How Nevada Uses More Than Its Tiny Share of the Colorado River Each Year

Nevada gets less than a 2 percent cut from the Colorado River’s waters, but the state actually uses far more water than that each year, all while staying well within its century-old legal water rights.

It’s all thanks to an extensive water recycling program in the Las Vegas Valley and something called “return flow credits,” which allow the state to pull extra water out of Lake Mead for every gallon of wastewater treated and returned to the reservoir via the Las Vegas Wash.