Las Vegas Is "Screwed"; The Water Situation "Is As Bad As You Can Imagine"

Tyler Durden's picture

"It's just going to be screwed. And relatively quickly," warns Tim Barnett, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, telling The Telegraph, the situation in Las Vegas is "as bad as you can imagine". After a devastating, 14-year drought drained the reservoir that supplies 90% of the city’s water, the apparently endless supply of water is an illusion as Las Vegas population has soared. As Barnett ominously concludes, "unless it can find a way to get more water from somewhere, Las Vegas is out of business. Yet they’re still building, which is stupid."

As The Telegraph reports, as with many things in Sin City, the apparently endless supply of water is an illusion.

America’s most decadent destination has been engaged in a potentially catastrophic gamble with nature and now, 14 years into a devastating drought, it is on the verge of losing it all.


“The situation is as bad as you can imagine,” said Tim Barnett, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “It’s just going to be screwed. And relatively quickly. Unless it can find a way to get more water from somewhere Las Vegas is out of business. Yet they’re still building, which is stupid.”

Things are not good...

Las Vegas gets just four inches of rain in a good year, and in the first four months of 2014 there was just 0.31 of an inch.


The Southern Nevada Water Authority, which has the task of keeping the city from running dry, has described the effects of the drought as “every bit as serious as a Hurricane Katrina or a Superstorm Sandy”.


However, Las Vegas still uses 219 gallons of water per person per day, one of the highest figures in the US. In San Francisco the figure is just 49 gallons.

But they have a plan...

Lake Mead’s water level is currently at 1,087ft above sea level. There are two pipes, known as “straws”, that take water from it to Las Vegas.


The first extracts water at an elevation of 1,050ft and is likely to be sucking at air, rather than water, soon. The second straw is at 1,000ft.


Lake Mead is expected to fall another 20ft towards that critical point by the end of this year.



Beneath the ground a mammoth effort is already under way to complete a new, lower straw which will be able to draw the last of the water from the lake.


But it is a painfully slow process as a giant drill the size of two football pitches advances at a rate of one inch per day.


That rescue project is costing $817 million and is currently expected to be complete by late 2015, but it is not viewed as a long-term solution.


Las Vegas also wants to build a separate $15.5 billion pipeline that would pump 27 billion gallons of groundwater a year from an aquifer 260 miles away in rural Nevada.


But a judge has refused permission after environmentalists sued on the basis that it would adversely 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, an antelope-like creature that is endangered in the region. The court heard that 25 species of Great Basin springsnails would be pushed toward extinction.

But in the end, it's a fals promise...

“It’s a really dumb-headed proposition. It would provide a false sense of security that there’s plenty of water and it would delay the inevitable decisions that have to be taken about water conservation and restricting growth.


The drought is like a slow spreading cancer across the desert. It’s not like a tornado or a tsunami, bang. The effects are playing out over decades. And as the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people (from Las Vegas).”


Mr Mrowka cited Lake Las Vegas, a mega-resort where stars including Celine Dion live, as one of the “most egregious examples” of wasting water.

And then there's this...

One proposal is for landlocked Nevada to pay billions of dollars to build solar-powered desalination plants in the Pacific off Mexico, taking Mexico’s share of Colorado River water in exchange.

But Mr Mrowka said: “The Colorado is essentially a dying river. Ultimately, Las Vegas and our civilisation in the American South West is going to disappear, like the Indians did before us.”

*  *  *
The bottom line - get there now, watch the fountains, drink the water, swim in the lake... (and sell your house)

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camaro68ss's picture

Do as Mr. Yellen, Just print water.

Pladizow's picture

"Build it and it will rain." - Paul Krugman

Omegaman2211's picture

Then break it and build it again.

Troll Magnet's picture

Here's to hoping Harry Reid retires to Vegas for good. 

ZerOhead's picture

I wonder what are the odds are of Lake Mead falling below 1,000 ft?

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Perhaps we can now say that Vegas is not a good place to await TEOTWAWKI.  No water...

Pure Evil's picture

Just drop a 50 MegaTon hydrogen bomb on it and call it Mission Accomplished.

Xibalba's picture

Well, what do you think Geo-Engineering is anyways?

MeMadMax's picture

Lost Angeles is next...

Thought Processor's picture



Tokyo might have them both beat.  

It's been confirmed that the aquafers supplying greater Tokyo are already contaminated with measurable radioactive particles from the Fukushima meltdowns (and the contamination will only increase from here on out).  

Some of these radioactive particles, no matter how small they are, will kill you if you injest them.  It may not take an hour, a day, a week or even a month but they will eventually get you.

3 Cores and no one knows where the hell they are.  The cooling water, no one knows where that is going either.  


Tokyo has nearly 40 million people.  


No water, no people.

COSMOS's picture

No problem they will just raise the safety levels on the amount of isotopes allowed in water.

Thought Processor's picture



Or make testing it illegal.  


They may have already done this, in that it may still be legal to test (I think) but it is now illegal to report that test.  That is, if I am correct in my understanding of the latest Nat. Sec. developments there.

knukles's picture

  -Marie Reid

Just subsidize it with Selection 8 free boozing place, EBT (Electronic Booze Transpire) cards and lotsa new AA meetings

Bohm Squad's picture

Answer: Kitty Litter

Question:  What is a yard full of empty alcohol bottles called?

imbrbing's picture

Answer, my yard after the weekend :)

Manthong's picture

Easy Fix..

Cut off Mexico.

Just tell them we need 50 gallons per day for each of the 12,000,000 illegals they shipped into the US.

If they want the water, they bring'em back.

I just solved the immigration reform problem, too.

markmotive's picture

Vegas is an early warning system for America. Housing overbuilding, gluttony...and now water.

From the UN: Just 17 years from now, nearly half the global population could be facing water scarcity, with demand outstripping supply by 40 percent.

This is happening now and is happening in America.

What will your kids think in 2070:

Manthong's picture

Well, my area of the Midwest is absolutely saturated. Some spots were getting 4 inches of rain/hour for a while with the two systems that passed through yesterday.

I get to welcome freaking July in here with a torrid global warming 65 degrees F this morning.

All this after the global warming deep freeze winter that whacked the economy in Q1 and still sees some ice in the northernmost of the Great Lakes.

I think I will go out for a run and generate a little excess CO2.

And oh, BTW, I have been in and out of Vegas well over a couple hundred times on business in the last 20 years or so. It was a great place in the mid- 90’s and I considered moving there then. I am certainly glad I did not. If the greedy bozo’s that “planned” and ruined Clark County had any clue about the limits of expansion and growth in a resource constrained environment, they would not be in this sad shape right now.


Calmyourself's picture

You must be in MN, its jeans and sweatshirts today

Againstthelie's picture

Libertarians would argue that the free market solves everything.

Wait: the problems of the next generation? Have no price...

Minburi's picture

If there were a free market, then the populations would go where the market can best support them. Not where social engineering has led them.

Populations would be smaller if people were responsible for their own actions and not socially engineered to become parasites and to produce more parasites.

Sound currency would help too instead of this debt based collapsing ponzi scheme system.

Flakmeister's picture

Seems you have a very idealized view of what motivates people and how society really functions...

The only social engineering has been the abundant cheap energy that has masked a lot of flawed ideology...

detached.amusement's picture

From the UN: Just 17 years from now, nearly half the global population could be facing water scarcity, with demand outstripping supply by 40 percent.




and the seas will also have risen 50 feet, there will be 2700ppm co2, el nino will be the primary driver of the climate, and the sun will be completely retired as we'll have found another more renewable solution by then


fuck the UN - you cant spell Eunuch without it

Cruel Aid's picture

Kennison on hunger and deserts. 

Theme twist: Don't give them anymore water, they will just put it in their pools!! Oh Oh OOOOh

We hv deserts, we just don't live in them!! S. K.

Vegas was small back then.

Cruel Aid's picture

No kidding, pukeworthy growth and dear leader is on nationwide tour making the case that is a cornucopia of jobs.

He's an idiot.

Edit: its not the drought, the ave rainfall is just over 30"/yr. Not enough for the millions that seem to want to come destroy it. Its not about global warming, its about getting swamped by carpetbaggers and refugees leaving the wreckage of... you know.

knukles's picture

If there's a problem it is too fucking many people, hiuman pollution, The Disease.
Lack of water is but a symptom

QQQBall's picture

Right, its the Messykins fault. Morons

JohnnyBriefcase's picture




I must have missed the part where he said anything regarding mexicans. It sounded more like he was blaming the excessive ammount of humans fucking everywhere and their retarded assumption that we can multiply endlessly without repercussions.

Oh nevermind. you're one of those that wish to divide the population and derail discussion.

Son of Loki's picture

Austin has turned intoa crappy place the last 8 years with overcrowding, congestion and high crime ...not to mention that huge mess of a race track on the outskirts.

Cruel Aid's picture

Ok Knuckles, you crossed from Sam Kinneson to Bill Burr... Too many fuckin people

Laugh your ass off in the face of this bullshit.

boogerbently's picture

Alaska Pipeline, Keystone Pipeline, how about something to save lives instead of adding to the "bottom line" ??

A WATER pipeline from the states that flood EVERY YEAR to the states that have DROUGHT every year ????

boogerbently's picture

Alaska Pipeline, Keystone Pipeline, how about something to save lives instead of adding to the "bottom line" ??

A WATER pipeline from the states that flood EVERY YEAR to the states that have DROUGHT every year ????

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

You're not allowed to say there are too many people in the world because people get very upset. Don't you know our children are our future. I just hope this next batch start being our future, better, because the last batches sure don't seem to have worked out too well.

Calmyourself's picture

Culture matters, now this is going to scorch some asses but it is about which people..  Yes, some cultures are vastly superior.

Freddie's picture

Repub governors in TX, AZ and NM and none of them are doing a damn thing about Obama's invasion.  Perry talks big but does nothing.

OceanX's picture

I've been following this for years.  A few years back the USGS forcast a 50% chance that Lake Mead would be dry by 2017? Also, a longterm study of tree rings have scientist thinking perhaps the last 100 years was a "wet" period in the last 900 years and maybe things are returning to a little more "normal"  

A really good read is: "Beyond The 100 Meridian"  it is a biography of John Wesly Powells career.

... you think there are a lot of claims on gold, read the water laws and claims on the water out west.  Different laws effect water allocation at various water levels for the resevoir.  I think things really start to get interesting under 1050 ft...

Out west, whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting!

Last July, I sold my house in Austin, glad to be out of Texas! (20 years)


P.S.  Also, check out how much of the forest the beetles have been eating.  Millions of acres of dead trees ...a giant tinderbox!

Falling Down's picture

There won't be enough water to turn the turblines at the hydro plant near there.

QQQBall's picture

also a good read = Cadillac Desert

BringOnTheAsteroid's picture

Would anyone actually miss Vegas?

plane jain's picture

Hail to a fellow expat.

We also sold our house last July and left Texas.  Lived there all my life.  It was nice until the population quadrupled.  Don't know if we will stick where we are, but there is plenty of water and a lot less people.

fallout11's picture

Lake Mead was rising (filling) back when the original (1968) Planet Of The Apes shots scenes there, built to supply Vegas with water. It has been draining (falling) since the early 1980's, slowly and steadily. Greater Vegas is overpopulated, and has been getting more so every year. Absent pumped water, the area's natural carrying capacity is about 400 people.

Magooo's picture

Don't tell 'the terrorists' about that

CzarVladimirI's picture

I live in Austin. Where did you move to if you don't mind me asking? 

OceanX's picture

I'm in Melbourne, Fl.  (parents and sister are here...)  I'm really liking the beach!

Magooo's picture

Big water problems in the area too...

Rusty Shorts's picture

“We can’t stop here, this is bat country”  - H.T.