Study warns of water woes in Nevada

CARSON CITY — A new study predicts that climate change will create devastating drought in Nevada and throughout the Southwest and continue to drop the levels of Lakes Mead and Powell, threatening the water supply for 2 million Nevadans.

The prediction came as part of a study released Wednesday by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Center for Integrative Environmental Research.

The study, paid for in part by the Environmental Defense Fund, analyzed the economic and environmental costs of global warming on 12 states.

By 2100, average temperatures in Nevada might increase by up to four degrees in the spring and fall and by up to six degrees in the summer and winter. El Nino conditions probably will increase in frequency and duration.

“These temperature changes will have major effects on evaporation and precipitation in the state. The decreased availability of water statewide is likely to affect development, tourism and power production,” the study adds.

“Unless we take action to cut the pollution causing climate change we will further jeopardize Nevada’s water supply,” said Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund. “The threat to the water supply in Nevada and other Western states demonstrate that the most expensive thing we can do about climate change is ignore it.”

Severe drought caused by climate change will constrain development and construction, and damage water-based recreation which brings in over $1 billion annually.

Such drought conditions would cost government $3.5 billion to build new pipelines to meet Las Vegas’ water demands, the report states.

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