The city running out of water
Las Vegas, America’s city of sin is a popular tourist destination, but its long-term future could be in real doubt. Over the last decade, its population has grown by 400,000 to four million residents, pilling pressure on local infrastructure.
A short distance from the strip is Lake Mead, the main water supply for Las Vegas. With 90% of the cites water originating there, Las Vegas is far too reliant on its services. The lake has now reached the half way point, with over four trillion gallons syphoned out. If consumption levels continue at their current rate, the lakes supply will run out by early 2036.
What can be done?
Steps are already being taken to extract as much water from the lake as possible, to buy the city more time. A new, lower straw which will be able to draw the last of the water from the lake was completed in 2015. The project had an estimated cost of $817 million.
There are also plans to construct a new pipeline, which should provide 27 billion gallons of groundwater a year from an aquifer 260 miles away in rural Nevada.
Unfortunately, the pipeline is proving difficult to establish. Environmentalists have protested against the project, claiming it would affect 5,500 acres of meadows, 33 miles of trout streams, and 130,000 acres of habitat used by sage grouse, mule deer, elk and pronghorn. If a plan can’t be agreed soon, a new solution may have to be discovered.