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New water cuts for Nevada: will the state be able to handle it?

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-21 08:25:43-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For the first time, Nevada and other areas are facing mandatory water cuts because of low lake levels.

The Bureau of Reclamation runs models of the Colorado River to determine how high lake levels will be. August is a critical month for these tests because historically, it’s the month that projects Lake Mead’s water levels at the start of the following year.

August of 2019’s levels have dropped below 1090 feet, which means that because of new regulations put in place from the Drought Contingency Plan, mandatory cuts are put in place.

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will get less water for 2020 because of the cuts.

According to Southern Nevada Water Authority spokesperson Bronson Mack, Nevada will be okay.

In a normal year, Nevada is allotted 300,000 acre feet of water. With this cut, Nevada will get 8,000 less, bringing 2020’s allotment to 292,000 acre feet. In 2018, Nevada only used 245,000 acre feet and 2019 is on track to use 225,000 acre feet. Mack says the decrease still is more than what Nevada uses on a yearly basis.

“Southern Nevada has really done such a good job with water conservation and reducing our overall water use that as a community we are well prepared to make these contributions, prescribed within these guidelines,” said Mack.

He attributes the preparedness to restrictions previously put in place in Southern Nevada in the past couple decades. He said the three main water-savers are getting rid of grass, reporting water waste when it’s happening and following water restrictions when watering outdoor plants and grass. He said 60% of the water used from the Colorado River is used outdoors (the remaining 40% used indoors is all recycled), so cutting back on outdoor watering has been crucial in cutting back on overall water waste.

Even with a growing population, Mack said we’re still on track to have sufficient water levels.

“Our community has reduced its water consumption from the Colorado River by 25% since 2002, yet our community grew by more than 650,000 people during that time,” said Mack, attributing the drop in water use to those restrictions put in place.

For any new people coming to town, it’s important to note the watering periods allotted in Southern Nevada. The irrigation clock is changed four times a year. Sept. 1, Southern Nevada will go from watering 6 days a week to 3. Also, everyone gets a watering day. A guideline to those schedules can be found here.