What Israel, Las Vegas and Other Places Can Teach SoCal About Using a Lot Less Water

Millions of Southern Californians will wake up to the region’s most severe water restrictions ever on June 1, with local water agencies under orders to slash the use of supplies from the State Water Project by 35%.

Many water experts say that the cuts are achievable and that reducing outdoor watering to one day a week can help yield immediate savings. At the same time, researchers and water policy experts say, the region needs to adapt to the severe drought because climate change, extreme heat and dwindling snowpack will only serve to exacerbate the issues in years to come

As Drought Shrinks the Colorado River, a SoCal Giant Seeks Help from River Partners to Fortify its Local Supply

Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies.

Where Lawns Are Outlawed (and Dug Up, and Carted Away)

It was a perfectly decent patch of lawn, several hundred square feet of grass in a condominium community on this city’s western edge. But Jaime Gonzalez, a worker with a local landscaping firm, had a job to do.

Wrangling a heavy gas-powered sod cutter, Mr. Gonzalez sliced the turf away from the soil underneath, like peeling a potato. Two co-workers followed, gathering the strips for disposal.

Vegas Water Intake Now Visible at Drought-Stricken Lake Mead

A massive drought-starved reservoir on the Colorado River has become so depleted that Las Vegas now is pumping water from deeper within Lake Mead where other states downstream don’t have access.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority announced this week that its Low Lake Level Pumping Station is operational, and released photos of the uppermost intake visible at 1,050 feet (320 meters) above sea level at the lake behind Hoover Dam.

“While this emphasizes the seriousness of the drought conditions, we have been preparing for this for more than a decade,” said Bronson Mack, water authority spokesman. The low-level intake allows Las Vegas “to maintain access to its primary water supply in Lake Mead, even if water levels continue to decline due to ongoing drought and climate change conditions,” he said.

The move to begin using what had been seen as an in-case-we-need-it hedge against taps running dry comes as water managers in several states that rely on the Colorado River take new steps to conserve water amid what has become perpetual drought.

Las Vegas Turns on Low-level Lake Mead Pumps Designed to Avoid a ‘Day Zero’

The country’s largest man-made reservoir, Lake Mead, has dropped to such a historically low level that Las Vegas water officials have completed the process of turning on a pump station that will allow Southern Nevada to retrieve water, even under extreme conditions.

The move — to turn on the pump station full bore — is an indication of how low Lake Mead has fallen over the past decade and serves as a bulwark against the possibility of Las Vegas losing physical access to its water as regional issues on the Colorado River become increasingly dire.

Record Growth, Record Heat, Record Drought: How Will Las Vegas Weather the Climate Crisis?

Away from the lights and fountains of the Las Vegas Strip, bulldozers are working overtime as the suburbs of Sin City are bursting out of their seams.

Las Vegas is growing at a staggering rate. Clark county, where the city is located, is home to roughly 2.3 million people, but forecasts predict the population could go beyond 4 million by 2055.

Attracted by the lure of cheaper costs of living, lower taxes, and newly built homes, more than half a million people are expected to flock to southern Nevada in just the next 15 years.

Las Vegas Board Approves Grass Ban in New Developments

A Southern Nevada water board approved a pair of resolutions Monday that seek to scale back future water consumption to accommodate population growth over the next several decades.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority board of directors approved one resolution to ban the installation of grass in new developments and another that supports a moratorium on the use of thirsty cooling units for new buildings.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to Visit Las Vegas

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will visit Las Vegas to discuss the worsening drought during a five-day swing in Western states this week to highlight programs in the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, officials said Monday. The secretary will be in Las Vegas on Dec. 12, according to a Department of Interior release. Details of the trip are yet to be announced.

In Response to Western Drought, a Flood of Legislation

Las Vegas visitors can still snap selfies with the mermaids swimming among tropical fish in the Silverton Casino’s massive aquarium and gaze at the colorful dancing water displays of the iconic Bellagio fountains — for now.

But southern Nevada and much of the American West are struggling to cope with a worsening drought that has strained municipal water supplies, agricultural operations and wildlife populations.

California Water Treatment Plant Could Benefit Thirsty Las Vegas

Someone drinking a glass of water in Las Vegas might one day owe a thanks to wastewater in California.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has offered to put $750 million into a $3.4 billion water treatment plant proposed for Southern California. In return, Nevada would be able to boost its yearly draw from Lake Mead by an additional 10 percent.

The new plant would produce cleaner water than current treatment facilities, allowing water agencies to wring more use from the Colorado River.