Leaking Las Vegas: Forced Rationing Looms As Lake Mead Faces Federal "Water Emergency"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Wolf Richter via WolfStreet.com,

Leak Mead – on your left, when you drive from Las Vegas across the Hoover Dam – is the largest reservoir in the country when at capacity. It’s fed by the Colorado River which provides water for agriculture, industry, and 40 million people in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Now after 15 years of drought, the “lake” – a mud puddle surrounded by a huge chalky bathtub ring – is threatening to run dry.

It’s considered “operationally full” when the water level is at 1,229 feet elevation above sea level. On May 2, the water level was down to 1,078.9 feet above sea level, the lowest since it was being filled in May 1937. It’s down 15 feet from the same day a year ago. Over the last 36 months, the water level has dropped 44.8 feet. It’s down 150 feet from capacity.

If the water level is below 1,075 feet elevation – 4 feet below today’s level – by January 1, 2016, it will trigger a federal water emergency. And water rationing. Las Vegas Review Journal reported that forecasters expect the level to drop to 1073 feet by June, before Lake Powell would begin to release more water. Assuming “average or better snow accumulations in the mountains that feed the Colorado River – something that’s happened only three times in the past 15 years,” the water level on January 1 is expected to be barely above the federal shortage level.

Even with these somewhat rosy assumptions of “average or better than average snow accumulations,” the water level would begin set new lows next April. But if the next winter is anything like the last few, all bets are off.

If the level drops below 1050 feet, one of the two intake pipes for the Las Vegas Valley, which gets 90% of its water that way, will run dry. A new $817-million tunnel is being built by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to create a new drain to get the last drop out of the bathtub. It should be ready by September.

The LA Times explains what water rationing would mean for the states:

Las Vegas has long been at a disadvantage when it comes to Lake Mead water. A 1922 Colorado River water-sharing agreement among seven Western states — one still in effect nearly a century later — gives southern Nevada the smallest amount of all; 300,000 acre-feet a year, compared with California’s 4.4 million annual acre-feet. An acre-foot can supply two average homes for one year.


This summer, officials will make their projection for Lake Mead water in January 2016. If the estimate is below 1,075 feet, rationing kicks in: Southern Nevada would lose 13,000 acre-feet per year and Arizona would lose 320,000 acre-feet. California’s portion would not be affected.

Note the last sentence – that California would not be affected. Keeping lawns green in LA is top priority.

“Between Lake Mead and Lake Powell, you have over 50 million acre feet in storage when they’re full,” explained Pat Mulroy, former general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority from 1991 until she retired in 2014. “To have them both go down to a quarter of their capacity is a pretty scary proposition,” she said.

Here she is, via Brookings, on the water crisis at Lake Mead, with ghostly images of the lake and of Hover Dam sitting high and dry:


To get through the drought, residents and growers in California’s Central Valley have been pumping water from aquifers to take a shower, fill a glass with water, irrigate almond orchards, or do a million other things. But now, it turns out, even those aquifers, whose water levels are already dropping, are threatened by something else.

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Headbanger's picture

Just build a taller dam!

And who actually drinks water in Vegas anyway?


ShrNfr's picture

Dam, why didn't I think of that?

CrazyCooter's picture

Obligatory Kinison ... You want to help? Send them a UHual, send them luggage! ... YOU LIVE IN A FUCKING DESERT!




insanelysane's picture

I love the old we're running out of water environmental argument.  Water is the only true renewable resource.  It doesn't disappear on a global scale.  Think about it!  Where does water go when it is "wasted".

You drink it and then piss it or sweat it.

You wash with it and down the drain it goes but doesn't it emerge somewhere else.

Water crops with it.  Goes into the food.  Food is eaten.  Crap is somewhat moist and eventually the water evaporates.



ZerOhead's picture

Forget the new intake tunnel for Vegas... what these guys need to do is build a giant straw and attatch it to the dry tunnel.

It's going to make one hell of a sucking sound when it finally gets to the last dregs at the bottom.

knukles's picture

It's all good because of the electric cars.

Pool Shark's picture



Marlin: The water's going down. It's-it's-it's going down!

Dory: Hmm. Are you sure about that?

Marlin: Look! Already it's half-empty.

Dory: Hmm... I'd say it's half-full.

Marlin: Stop that! It's half-empty!

macholatte's picture



Whisky’s for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’.

-- Mark Twain


Lake Powell Data



PartysOver's picture

Let Harry Reid and all those that voted for him drink from the urinals.

Publicus's picture

I am willing to sell 10 gallon of my water to California for $1000 via UPS.

whotookmyalias's picture

If the oceans are rising, just build a big pipe from the pacific ocean to Nevada. They can desalinate it and dump it back into the lake. Now we've filled the lake and helped prevent the seas from rising.  Win-win.

nmewn's picture

I can't keep up, the deal was, water levels will recede with election of The Won, now everybody is bitching.

You just can't please some "folks" ;-)

not dead yet's picture

The solution, instead of building expensive and electricity intensive pipelines over or through mountains is for Nevada to build desalinaztion plants on the coast and trade that water to California for the same amount in Lake Mead. It has been suggested many times but no action has been taken.

Socratic Dog's picture

I'll send you a check for $2k via Western Union.  Send me the 10 gallons and the change in cash.  Keep $20 for your trouble.

Rusty Shorts's picture
“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.”


 - Benjamin Franklin

cnmcdee's picture

Why don't they build pipeline and move the water..? They can send a man to the moon.. Are they terrified of creating jpbs?

nmewn's picture

They're building a bullet train instead, they're gonna transport the water over in those little plastic bottles everyone carries around with them on the way from water starved Kalifornia to the shimmering nomadic oasis that is Vegas.

They got it all figgered out, its Regional Central Planning 101.

Antifaschistische's picture

 "A new $817-million tunnel is being built by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to create a new drain to get the last drop out of the bathtub. It should be ready by September."


Am I the only one who has no comprehension of why Las Vegas is allowed to build this new tunnel so the golf courses, pools and some of the worlds largest shooting water fountains can stay happy in Vegas? 

Freddie's picture

How many years have the zios and Mormons who control vegas have been cheating and screwing the little people?   God is punishing that vile hell hole.  Hopefully Harry Reid's brother will beat him again and next time with a pipe.

F Vegas!  F all the 4th tier celebs or D-listers who get rich playing Vegas.  F the dual shit-i-Zens and George Clooney who owns a big operation in shit hole Vegas.

EddieLomax's picture

Las Vegas is a city in the desert for sure, but it is small in comparison to LA, blaming Las Vegas for the lack of water is ridiculous, if they reduced their usage down to zero the water level would continue to fall, its all about LA really. 

The hotels in Las Vegas are pretty efficient by world standards, yet all we hear is how they are running out of water while no one mentions the elephant in the room that is LA. 

The extra tunnel does sound ridiculous, I would have thought a cross country tunnel from a wet state would make sense rather than adding an extra straw to a rapidly emptying reserviour!

not dead yet's picture

Golf courses, Nevada has 133, Arizona 421, California almost a thousand. According to Bellagio, whose fountains you rant about, the water used in the fountains is groundwater that is not fit for human consumption. Around half of the Lake Mead water used is cleaned and sent back to the lake, something that cannot be said for California and Arizona. The open canals that take water into California and Phoenix along with the many California reservoirs filled with Colorado River water probably evaporate more water than Las Vegas uses. If you read the article Nevada gets a drop in the bucket compared to California and Arizona. Unless things have changed in the 10 years since I was there, south of Phoenix there are miles upon miles of water sucking cotton fields in the broiling desert that could be replanted back east where they belong. California grows a lot of cotton too. Las Vegas has bought up lots of land to the north to pump groundwater but is being blocked in the courts, just as anyone trying to drain the Great Lakes would be tied up in the courts for decades and would still lose. Unless things have changed in recent years Las Vegas gets very little power from Hoover Dam. So if the Lake goes dry the lights will still be on in Vegas.

CPL's picture

Remember it's only May and there's no first water in your court anymore.  Get back to me when you pay good money to lick the sweat out of a hobo's ass.

nope-1004's picture

Exactly.  There is water, and there is FRESH water.


Oh regional Indian's picture

Now that is one freaky mind painting such a weird vision CPL.

So here is one interesting thing I've found in my life. 

There is a reason eating less or not at all is called....FASTING.

Therefore eating must be????? ...SLOWING.

Fast, it's quite a feeling...

Words, they'll tell you the story...


CPL's picture

No worries there, anything I eat just goes right through me anyways.  But you know, everyone needs calcium keeps the bones in good condition with a nice big toothy smile.  Or when wearing a fashionable hoodie it doesn't have the same effect when meeting people.  Now...for my next trick I'm going to extort Las Vegas for their existence.

\\Las Vegas...It puts the lotion on it's skin, then it gets the hose again.  100 Bitcoins a week in the wallet or enjoy drinking ball sweat.  If not...be sure to comp the high rollers with a bottle of evian and bed pan in June.


Haka Matohi's picture
Haka Matohi (not verified) CPL May 4, 2015 3:00 PM

Me and my boys be ready.

One And Only's picture

Tell the ancient Egyptians that water doesn't go anywhere.

TBT or not TBT's picture

They knew plenty about The Nile, or so they thought.  Denial on the other hand....

Praetorian Guard's picture

1880's western range wars coming to a town near you again. Stupid fucking liberal commifornia fucked everyone else. Do you really need a green lawn??? Or how about all the illegal immigrants? Nah, they don't drink, piss, or flush... "water, water everywhere, no not a drop to drink"...

Come join us for free at www.gunsgrubandgold.com

Survival links, financials, etc.

All are welcome!!!

Occams_Chainsaw's picture

As the population continues to grow more and more water is being used up by the growing existence of the ugly bags of mostly water.  If we kill enough of them off we can reclaim some of that water.

Citxmech's picture

Your water belongs to the tribe. . . 

Frank Herbert scores again.

Bunghole's picture

The bitch in the video has a solution.

Water tax

Freddie's picture

They need 5o million more illegals in Amerika to fix the water problem.

Slarti Bartfast's picture

It's about fresh water. Fresh water is renewed by rain or by melting snowpack.

Pumping fossil aquifers is not renewable. Pumping aquifers faster than they refill is not renewable.

Pumping reservoirs or rivers faster than they are replenished is not renewable.

Perhaps more waste water should be recycled instead of being pumped into the ocean?

A Nanny Moose's picture

But we still use 1.6 GPF x2 to flush our shit to....nowhere. Why do we use water to fluch piss and shit?


Compost it.

Freddie's picture

I hope somebody shits all in the rest of the water left in Las Vegas.  The place is a miserable hot vile shithole filled with ghouls and zombies.

A Nanny Moose's picture

LOL...well my brother is being xferred to Nellis, so I can't really hope for that. He mentioned having to reenlist to get his "orders" to relocate from Alamogordo. /2x facepalm.

I imagine the other option was to be shipped to Krapministan for the remainder of his enlistment, should he have had any reservations about his Doody to Cuntry.



Jumbotron's picture

" I love the old we're running out of water environmental argument.  Water is the only true renewable resource.  It doesn't disappear on a global scale. "


Tell that to the Martians......oh......wait.

FlacoGee's picture

Dice Clay in his prime.

Sam Kinison.

The USA went to shit after Sam's death.



Cynicles's picture

The LA Concrete Jungle was built on a desert - most of So Ca is / was desert.

Pool Shark's picture



"The LA Times explains what water rationing would mean for the states."


No more fountains at the Bellagio???!!!



divingengineer's picture

What about the 3,000,000 gal man made lake and all the golf courses?

They deserve this in a truly biblical way.

A Nanny Moose's picture

And here I thought that the next Genocide would be brought about by schemes like 0'Bamacare. Fuck that, it's in the water!

Freddie's picture

F the LA Times and F the zio casino owners.  They all wanted tens of millions of illegals.  the chickens are coming home to roost.

drendebe10's picture

... no worries, mates.... the beady eyed, dried up, fossilized withered troglodyte harry reid who only has hisself interests as well as the unions and illegal aliens to heart will solve the problem.....