As Nevada faces its second year of water cuts, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) urged more action to be taken from nearby states and the federal government on the issue of water conservation, particularly when it comes to the Colorado River Basin, a main water supply for the region.
“We’ve been preparing for this moment for decades hoping it would never come but we are in a critical situation right now,” Sisolak said last month while touring a water pumping station at Lake Mead, calling Nevada “a leader in water conservation and innovative technology.”
Currently the dead pool level for the Hoover Dam, the point at which water stops passing through from the Colorado River, remains below Lake Mead’s 1,045 feet at 895 feet above sea level. Amidst the worsening drought conditions, Gov. Sisolak urged that more action needed to be taken both locally and federally. He also assured that Nevadans would still have water even if the dead pool level was reached.
“Southern Nevada is still in the position [where] we can continue to pump water and serve the customers,” Sisolak said, noting that even in a worst case scenario, the state would still be able to pump water even if nearby states aren’t able to receive allocations.
Lake Mead’s water levels have fallen over 150 feet since 2000, something that the Southern Nevada Water Authority has been trying to mitigate through stringent water conservation efforts.
“We desperately need the rest of the states that rely on the Colorado River water to do the same thing that we’re doing and we need the federal government to act with the same urgency that Nevada has already acted with,” Sisolak said.
Some of these actions include a panel of water advisors, a planned water infrastructure package drawing from American Rescue Plan funds, and low level pumping stations. Courting the right industries, particularly ones that aren’t water intensive, has also been part of Sisolak’s strategy.
Despite a significant population increase over the decades, Southern Nevada has been able to cut water use by 26 percent since the start of the drought.
The federal government announced that Nevada would lose 8 percent of its water allocation in 2023 last month, alongside cuts for other states in the region after they failed to meet the deadline for drafting a water conservation plan.