Authority approves leasing water to California

Drought-stricken cities in Southern California will soon get some help courtesy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Authority board members on Thursday approved plans to lease 150,000 acre-feet of water to California from the Las Vegas Valley's reserves in the coming year.

Pending approval from its board, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will pay the authority almost $44.4 million for the water, which equates to about a six-month supply for the Las Vegas Valley.

The authority can either keep the cash and let California keep the water, or repay some or all of the money in the coming years and get a proportional share of water in return.

"We'll have access to the water when we need it," said authority general manager John Entsminger.

In the meantime, the $44,375,000 from Southern California's largest municipal water supplier would be placed in the authority's rate-stabilization fund.

"We're not proposing any particular use for it now," Entsminger said.

The authority has roughly 1.5 million acre-feet of water banked in various locations, including Lake Mead, Arizona, California and in the groundwater aquifer underlying the Las Vegas Valley.

That's enough water to supply the community for more than seven years at current consumption levels, Entsminger said.

Contact Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350. Find him on Twitter: @RefriedBrean.