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PART 6: Southern Nevada water agency intensifies turf war

Residents and cities are buying into the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s campaign against ornamental sod. Since 1999, more than 187 million square feet of grass have been removed and untold millions more were never planted.

PART 7: How Southern Nevada puts water away for a not-so-rainy day

Las Vegas Valley water managers opened the community’s first water savings account 20 years ago, literally banking on the day thevalley could no longer live on its Colorado River allotment alone.

PART 8: Could saving Salton Sea help boost Colorado River?

Former Southern Nevada Water Authority chief Pat Mulroy is championing a plan that would leave more water in the Colorado and replace it with desalinated ocean water pumped from Mexico to Southern California.

How long can we go?
An aerial view of homes near Silver Springs Park in the southeast valley in February 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Las Vegas only has so much water.
We may be hitting the limit sooner than we think.
Explore each scenario to see how long Las Vegas can keep growing with the water it gets from the Colorado River

In its annual resource plan, the Southern Nevada Water Authority uses different scenarios to predict where the community will get its water for the next 50 years. They range from optimistic-but-unlikely to alarming-but-also-unlikely. All of them assume we'll keep growing and conserving. Some of them require us to find a new, permanent water source -- maybe ocean desalination, water rights on the Virgin River, groundwater from eastern Nevada or some combination of those things. Use the sliders below to see how long our current water supply will last under different scenarios and how soon we might have to dip into our savings or bring in new supplies.
All scenarios and calculations are provided by the Southern Nevada Water Authority
* One acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons, enough to supply two average Las Vegas homes for just over one year.

Best Case: Modest growth, no river shortage

Things are looking good for Las Vegas and its main source of water. The community is growing just like the experts thought it would, and Lake Mead has somehow managed to avoid a shortage, so Southern Nevada doesn't have to give up any of its Colorado River water. Great! We can live off what we get from the river and the groundwater we pump from the valley for the next 50 years at least.
How much is Las Vegas using? 0 of the Permanent Supply

Estimated Population of Clark County in :

20192069
← drag to change years →

Middle ground: Modest growth, some shortage

So Southern Nevada is fine for the foreseeable future, right? Not so fast. If Lake Mead keeps dropping, sending the Colorado River into shortage, we're going to have to give up as much as 7 percent of our annual river allotment. If those shortage cuts keep piling up year after year, we're going to have dip into our "temporary supplies" -- basically the savings account we've racked up over the years by storing water in Arizona, California, Lake Mead and beneath the Las Vegas Valley. No big deal. We can live off our savings for a while, so long as we don't grow any faster than expected.
How much is Las Vegas using? 0 of the Permanent Supply 0 of the Temporary Supply planned in this scenario

Estimated Population of Clark County in :

20192069
← drag to change years →

Worse Case: Rapid growth, some shortage

Uh-oh. Where did all these people come from? If we get hit with a sudden growth spurt on top of those 7 percent shortage cuts every year, we might have to dip into our temporary supplies much sooner than we thought. And the sooner we start raiding our savings account, the sooner it runs out. We'd better find some future source of water -- and fast. We might just need that new, permanent supply within the next 25 years.
How much is Las Vegas using? 0 of the Permanent Supply 0 of the Temporary Supply planned in this scenario 0 Acre-feet/year* needed from future resources

Estimated Population of Clark County in :

20192069
← drag to change years →

Worst Case: Rapid growth, deep shortage

Take cover, everyone. It's the perfect storm. Southern Nevada gets swamped by an unexpected population boom just as the water level in Lake Mead falls off a cliff, forcing the community to cut its river use by 14 percent a year. Water authority officials call this one the "stress test" because they don't expect it to happen. If it does, we might start needing that new, permanent water source by 2041, and we might burn through all the temporary supplies we plan to use by 2044.
How much is Las Vegas using? 0 of the Permanent Supply 0 of the Temporary Supply planned in this scenario 0 Acre-feet/year* needed from future resources

Estimated Population of Clark County in :

20192069
← drag to change years →
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PART 6: Southern Nevada water agency intensifies turf war

Residents and cities are buying into the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s campaign against ornamental sod. Since 1999, more than 187 million square feet of grass have been removed and untold millions more were never planted.

PART 7: How Southern Nevada puts water away for a not-so-rainy day

Las Vegas Valley water managers opened the community’s first water savings account 20 years ago, literally banking on the day thevalley could no longer live on its Colorado River allotment alone.

PART 8: Could saving Salton Sea help boost Colorado River?

Former Southern Nevada Water Authority chief Pat Mulroy is championing a plan that would leave more water in the Colorado and replace it with desalinated ocean water pumped from Mexico to Southern California.