The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) recently announced a historic, first-ever water shortage for users of Colorado River water, including Nevada. The Bureau said that Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume, was 1,067 feet above sea level and at 35% capacity. This means the first tier of water cuts will begin January 1st. Nevada is expected to lose about 7% of its annual allocation due to the ongoing drought. If resources continue to decline, a second decrease could occur as soon as 2023.
A 2020 study by US Geological Survey scientists found that “the Colorado River’s flow has declined by about 20% throughout the past century with more than half of the decline attributed to warming temperatures.”
The Southern Nevada Water Authority responded to the news by announcing several conservation priorities:
- Targeting the reduction of non-functional turf and limiting turf installation in new development.
- Limiting cool-season turf installation in public spaces and expediting conversion in public facilities.
- Enhancing landscape watering compliance through implementation of smart controller technology.
- Speeding customer leak repairs through implementation of advanced metering infrastructure.
- Reducing consumptive water losses associated with evaporative cooling.
- Encouraging efficient development and discouraging consumptive water use for new large water users.
- Continuing to achieve reductions in water loss through infrastructure investments.
Three ways that residents can continue to conserve water include changing outdoor watering clock to reduce the times and amounts of irrigation, remove unneeded landscape and reporting water waste. More than sixty percent (60%) of water use is outdoor use. The remaining forty percent (40%) of use is broken down as follows:
- Toilets: 24%
- Showers: 20%
- Faucets: 19%
- Clothes Washing: 17%
- Water Leaks: 12%
- Baths and other: 7%
- Dishwashers: 1%
Water used indoors is mainly recycled, treated and returned to Lake Mead. Water used outdoors mainly evaporates and is not recycled.