In The News — Below are press stories about the ongoing drought in the west; information about the Southern Nevada Water Authority's "water grab" in Nevada and Utah; and other "mega" water projects that threaten the Great Basin.
[Note: Stories open in new browser window]
May / July 2015 —What You Need to Know About the Water Crisis in the West — Causes of, and potential solutions to the Water Crisis on the Colorado River — by Abrahm Lustgarten, David Sleight, Amanda Zamora and Lauren Kirchner, ProPublica, and John Grimwade, Special to ProPublica
July 03, 2015 — Summerlin’s popularity continues to grow despite valley’s dwindling water supply — You hear those snide remarks about Summerlin, about its unique “roundabout” road intersections, about the well-manicured, palm tree-lined streets, the upscale homes in gated communities, the parks, the jogging trails and so much more. Then it all filters into some imaginary or maybe envious reference to those “snooty” or “smug” inhabitants of Summerlin. But the stark reality is this: The 22,500 acres of land that sit at the edge of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, on the western rim of Las Vegas, form not only the most desirable master-planned community in the Southwest, they represent some of the most sought-after real estate by a growing percentage of home-seekers across America — RJ.com
July 01, 2015 —
Lake Mead watch: As the Colorado dries up, will tourism? — Before Lake Mead was filled in 1936, there was little water to be had in the desert ecosystems of western Arizona and southern Nevada. But that changed after the Colorado River was impounded behind the Hoover Dam, creating the nation’s largest reservoir. By the 1950s, when Bob Gripentog, 64, was growing up on the shores of Lake Mead, water seemed abundant. In less than 50 years, Las Vegas grew from 40,000 people to 2 million — many of whom came to play on the reservoir, where Gripentog’s family ran a marina — High Country News
July 01, 2015 — In Drying Colorado River Basin, Indian Tribes Are Water Dealmakers — Mired in drought and torched by one of the hottest years ever measured, the seven states of the Colorado River Basin are acutely aware of how a desert can bully water supplies. They are not alone. In this cauldron of collaboration and competing interests is a collection of players who are just as significant for managing and responding to water scarcity but attract much less attention: the basin’s 29 federally recognized Indian tribes CircleOfBlue.org [Interactive Map]
June 28, 2015 — Nevada water leader blasts Arizonans' anti-California rhetoric — How good are Arizona's legal rights to the Colorado River "if Lake Mead is at dead pool!!!!" asks Patricia Mulroy, the
former water boss for the Las Vegas area who has wielded enormous influence over the years over management of the
Colorado River and over Las Vegas' growth, water use and conservation — Tucson.com
June 28, 2015 — Lake Mead decline below 1,075 feet is symbolic — If New Year’s Day had happened last week, the Central Arizona Project would have suffered the first water shortage in its 35-year history. That’s because Lake Mead — where CAP water is stored at the Nevada border — dropped below 1,075 feet elevationlate Tuesday, and stayed that way off and on the rest of the week. That’s the level at which the federal government is legally required to declare a shortage on the Colorado River, curtailing deliveries to Arizona farmers including some in northern Pima County — Tucson.com
June 25, 2015 — California’s Drought Is Part of a Much Bigger Water Crisis. Here’s What You Need to Know: — Propublica.org
- Why do I keep hearing about the California drought, if it's the Colorado River that we're "killing"?
- Just how bad is the drought in California right now?
- What about a lot of rain? Couldn't that end the drought in California and across the West?
- What do you mean by mismanagement?
- Wait — don't we all have equal water rights?
- So where is all this water going?
- What is California doing to address its water problems? Is it working?
- Will California cutbacks alleviate the larger Colorado River problem?
- I don't live in California or the West, so why is this my problem?
June 25, 2015 — How A Historical Blunder Helped Create The Water Crisis In The West [Transcript - PDF] — This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross, who's off this week. We've heard a lot in recent years about the drought and water shortages in the West driven, many believe, by climate change. Our guest today, environmental reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, says those shortages are as much the product of mismanagement of our water resources as anything happening in the weather — NPR [36.56 min]
June 25, 2015 — 9 sobering facts about California’s groundwater problem — With an alarmingly dry winter and California reservoirs dropping fast, groundwater increasingly is keeping the state hydrated. It now accounts for about 60 percent of California’s water supply. But unlike its rivers, lakes and reservoirs, the state does not consider groundwater part of the public good. It does not regulate groundwater like it does surface water. Landowners can pump as much water as they want — RevealNews.org
June 24, 2015 — Experts Name the Top 19 Solutions to the Global Freshwater Crisis — CircleOfBlue.org
June 24, 2015 — Western governors discuss water use changes — Some significant changes may be needed in the way water is used and protected across the West, according to a report issued Tuesday [24 Page PDF] as Nevada and adjoining states struggle with the impacts of protracted drought. The document, requested last year by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, was released at the outset of the annual meeting of the Western Governors' Association at Lake Tahoe — Reno Gazette Journal
June 24, 2015 — ProPublica Investigates Colorado River Water Woes — PHOENIX - The investigative journalism group ProPublica has been taking an in-depth look at the water crisis in the West, in a series that is focused on the Colorado River. As part of the series Killing the Colorado, reporter Abrahm Lustgarten spent months interviewing people on all sides of the water-use debate, from farmers in Arizona to city leaders in Las Vegas. — ProPublica
June 24, 2015 — Lake Mead sinks to record low, risking 2016 water shortage — Lake Mead sunk to a record low Tuesday night by falling below the point that would trigger a water-supply shortage if the reservoir doesn't recover by January. Water managers expect the lake's elevation level to rebound enough to ward off a 2016 shortage thanks to a wetter-than-expected spring. But in the long run, as a Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman said, "we still need a lot more water." — USA Today
June 23, 2015 — [Wyoming] Green River could boost industrial complex dream — Legislators and industrialists hoping to build an energy complex in southwest Wyoming could more easily divert and use Green River water under a bill U.S. Sen. John Barrasso advanced last week. Barrasso heard no objections from a Bureau of Reclamation official against a plan to finish armoring the upstream face of Fontenelle Dam on the Green River in Sweetwater County near LaBarge. The bill would allow Wyoming to increase the amount of water drained from the 20-mile long reservoir —wyofile.com
June 19, 2015 — The desalination conversation is getting downright salty — Top officials from the Southern Nevada Water Authority assure skeptics that, despite record drought throughout the West, steadily worsening conditions and rising demand, Southern Nevada has plenty of water for decades to come. Between conservation and reclamation, there’s no need to panic and start hand-wringing . . . Whatever drives your interest in a water future that includes desalination, there’s no shortage of opinions on the subject — John L. Smith, Las Vegas Review Jouranal
June 17, 2015 — Drought, growth, complacency and the Review-Journal's water story — As a local journalist who’s covered water issues, I scratched my head while reading Jennifer Robison’s June 13 Review Journal story, “Water isn’t a worry when it comes to Las Vegas growth — Heidi Kyser, KNPR.org
June 17, 2015 — Lake Mead watch: six inches from the level that triggers cutbacks — Record rain across much of the West in May has provided Lake Mead with a much-needed boost – alleviating concerns about possible cutbacks in water deliveries from the nation's largest reservoir. But a month of rain does not solve Mead's falling water levels. For nearly two decades, the reservoir, which straddles the Arizona-Nevada border, has been shrinking due to prolonged drought and over-allocation — High Country News
June 17, 2015 — Many of the world's water basins are being depleted, studies find — More than a third of the largest groundwater basins in the world are being depleted faster than they are getting replenished, and there are little to no accurate data showing just how much water is left in them, according to two new studies published Tuesday — LA Times
June 17, 2015 — Use It or Lose It: Across the West, Exercising One’s Right to Waste Water — HIGH IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, snowmelt fills a stream that trickles down into Ohio Creek and then onward toward the Upper Gunnison River. From there, it tumbles through the chasms of the Black Canyon, joining the Colorado River, filling the giant Lake Powell reservoir, and, one day, flowing to Los Angeles. But before the water gets more than a few miles off the mountain, much of this stream is diverted into dirt ditches used by ranchers along the Ohio Creek Valley. Standing astride one of those ditches one day last fall, Bill Ketterhagen dug his boot soles against the concrete edge of a 5-foot-wide dam. He spun a steel wheel and opened a gate that allowed water to pour into his fields of hay crops — ProPublica.org
June 16, 2015 —[Opinion - Abby Johnson, resident of Carson City] Fresh Ideas: Public participation should be key in Drought Forum — The Governor’s Nevada Drought Forum is off to a disappointing start. At an April press conference, with parched and dusty Washoe Lake as a dramatic backdrop, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval announced the formation of the Nevada Drought Forum, created by Executive Order. The eight-man committee consists of state government department heads, university system reps and the new boss of Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) — Nevada Appeal
June 16, 2015 — The Colorado River is not a water buffet. So why the 'first come, first serve' policy? — As water shortages grip California and the seven state Colorado River basin, many users feel no pain, while some face a complete curtailment. That’s because the water management system is not designed to be either efficient or equitable but consistent and predictable. And it is. — The Guardian.com
June 16, 2015 — End of the Miracle Machines — Inside the Power Plant Fueling America’s Drought A COUPLE OF MILES outside the town of Page, three 775-foot-tall caramel-colored smokestacks tower like sentries on the edge of northern Arizona’s sprawling red sandstone wilderness. At their base, the Navajo Generating Station, the West’s largest power-generating facility, thrums ceaselessly, like a beating heart . . . The power generated enables a modern wonder. It drives a set of pumps 325 miles down the Colorado River that heave trillions of gallons of water out of the river and send it shooting over mountains and through canals — Propublica.org
June 15, 2015 — May showers bring better outlook for Colorado River, but no miracle — It wasn’t the “Miracle May” that some observers called it, but a month of downpours in Colorado and Utah did provide a significant boost to the outlook for the Colorado River. A terrible year became merely below average. 'Miracle' is probably a bit of an overstatement, but the unusually wet May did have a positive impact on water supply,” said Paul Miller, a senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City. Just a month ago, federal forecasters expected to see the Colorado at about 42 percent of its average flow. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s latest monthly forecast, unveiled Monday afternoon, has upped the projection to 70 percent of average for the river that fills Lake Mead and supplies 90 percent of the Las Vegas Valley’s drinking water — Las Vegas Review Journal
June 15, 2015 — Beyond the Perfect Drought: California’s Real Water Crisis — The record-breaking drought in California is not chiefly the result of low precipitation. Three factors – rising temperatures, groundwater depletion, and a shrinking Colorado River – mean the most populous U.S. state will face decades of water shortages and must adapt — Environment 360 Yale
June 14, 2015 — Nev. fails to create rules to deal with drought — CARSON CITY: Nevada could pay a price for not making any substantive changes to its water laws during the 2015 legislative session. The possibility of a special session for the Legislature was discussed at the first meeting of the Nevada Drought Forum, a panel created in April by executive order of Gov. Brian Sandoval and consisting of several state agency heads and other water authorities — LakeTahoeNews.net
June 14, 2015 — Israel Bringing Its Years Of Desalination Experience To California — Taking the salt out of seawater helped Israel move from the constant threat of drought to a plentiful supply of water, but Israel has learned that desalination is not the only answer — NPR
June 13, 2015 — Water isn’t a worry when it comes to Las Vegas growth — Forget everything you’ve heard about Southern Nevada’s water crisis. That includes:
- Lake Mead will go dry within a decade.
- The Las Vegas Valley uses more Colorado River water than it has rights to.
- Resorts and homebuilders are irresponsibly throwing up water-guzzling homes and hotels.
- The city will run out of water completely and cease to exist in — fill in the blank — five, 10, 15, 30 years.
None of it is true. Fact is, Nevada has enough water not only for today, but for tomorrow — even a tomorrow that includes hundreds of thousands of new Las Vegans and millions more tourists — Las Vegas Review Jouranl