Vegas Draws Line on Mead Lakeside as Trigger Point to Build Pipeline to Great Basin Ground Water

Posted on | June 1, 2009 | No Comments

JUST in case any of the board members of the Southern Nevada Water Authority have become squeamish lately about mining the Great Basin Aquifer to sustain growth in Las Vegas, they have been given a deadline to approve building the 300-mile-long pipeline that they will need to pump the Great Basin’s ground water water south. The deadline will come when the elevation of Lake Mead, the Colorado River reservoir that currently supplies roughly 90% of Las Vegas’s water, drops another 23 feet or reaches 1,075 feet. 

From today’s story by Henry Brean in the Las Vegas Review Journal:

  • Board members have already approved the pipeline concept and signed off on ongoing efforts to secure water rights and environmental permits, but they have never actually voted to build the project
  • That decision will come if, or perhaps when, the surface of Lake Mead sinks to elevation 1,075, a low-water mark not seen since 1937 when the reservoir was being filled for the first time
  • Current projections by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation call for Lake Mead to remain above 1,075 for the next two years at least. The closest it is expected to come is in July, when the reservoir is projected to slip below elevation 1,092 for the first time since March 1965

Behind the board deadline is a supposition by SNWA general manager Patricia Mulroy that the Great Basin pipeline project cannot and will not be stopped, even though environmental reviews by the Interior agencies remain outstanding, a Nevada Supreme Court case decision over due process for protestors is being heard, Utah has yet to sign off on water being exported from basins next to its border, and even the final water allocation to one of the most fecund basins in the pipeline plan hasn’t been made.

The due process case goes before the Nevada Supreme Court this morning at 10.30am.

For May 2004-2009 Lake Mead elevations, click here.

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