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Water reservoir near Las Vegas reaches catastrophic low... entire city may be turned to ghost town in just a few years

Las Vegas water supply

(NaturalNews) While it may seem impossible and unthinkable, the fact is if current drought trends continue the "city of lights" may soon turn into a former metropolis of entertainment.

If you've never heard of Lake Mead, it is the water reservoir that feeds Las Vegas, gambling capital of the nation. And its quickly being drained after years of punishing drought that have nothing to do with "global warming" or "man-caused climate change" and everything to do with normal changing patterns of weather.

Lake Mead is America's largest reservoir, and a month ago Zero Hedge reported that at the time officials were already considering emergency conservation measures that would have to be imposed on both Nevada and parts of Arizona. The lake had fallen to record low levels since it was filled in the 1930s, which is putting its 2 million residents at risk and threatening a 40-million-visitor-per-year entertainment trade that is the city's life blood.

As noted further by The Desert Sun:

The downward march of the reservoir near Las Vegas reflects enormous strains on the over-allocated Colorado River. Its flows have decreased during 16 years of drought, and climate change is adding to the stresses on the river.

As the levels of Lake Mead continue to fall, the odds are increasing for the federal government to declare a shortage in 2018, a step that would trigger cutbacks in the amounts flowing from the reservoir to Arizona and Nevada. With that threshold looming, political pressures are building for California, Arizona and Nevada to reach an agreement to share in the cutbacks in order to avert an even more severe shortage.

'We have the time and smarts to manage this'

"This problem is not going away and it is likely to get worse, perhaps far worse, as climate change unfolds," Brad Udall, a senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University, told The Desert Sun. "Unprecedented high temperatures in the basin are causing the flow of the river to decline. The good news is that we have time and the smarts to manage this, if all the states work together."

But in the month since things have only gotten worse, especially as dry conditions have led to wildfires in the region and is beginning to parch the Midwest (where much of the nation's crops are grown – even as Texas has been flooding).

The lake now resides at 1,072 feet – the lowest on record. "Under the federal guidelines that govern reservoir operations, the Interior Department would declare a shortage if Lake Mead's level is projected to be below 1,075 feet as of the start of the following year," Zero Hedge reports. "In its most recent projections, the Bureau of Reclamation calculated the odds of a shortage at 10 percent in 2017, while a higher likelihood – 59 percent – at the start of 2018."

That said, the estimates probably will change when the federal agency releases a new study in August. Rose Davis, public affairs officer for the Bureau of Reclamation, said that if the study finds the lake's level is going to be below the required threshold on Dec. 31, a shortage will be declared for 2017.

'Tricky to make the math work in the long run'

And if that happens it will lead to severe cutbacks for Arizona and Nevada. California, the breadbasket of the nation and the state with the most water privileges and rights from the Colorado River, would not face restrictions until the reservoir hits a lower level.

The last time the lake reached full capacity was in 1983.

If the weather patterns don't change, then it's very likely that at some point in the future Nevadans will have to consider relocated Las Vegas or abandoning it altogether because there won't be enough water to supply it.

Plus, there are other pressures as well, such as population growth into the region, which puts even more stress on the existing water supply. Not only is California – of which a sizeable portion is desert – importing as many illegal immigrants as it can, the big tech companies continue to expand in Silicon Valley, bringing in more and more workers.

"The question becomes how to resolve this mismatch across states that all depend on the river to support their economic growth," Kelly Sanders, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in water and energy issues, said. She believes incentives and markets will help ease some of the strains on water supplies, "but it is going to be tricky to make the math work in the long term."






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