Water In Southern Nevada Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Water, Internet, Lake, Lake Mead, Las Vegas, River, Treatment, Government

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/11/13

In America’s west, water – or the scarcity of it – has for many years been an issue. For almost a century, seven south-western states have enjoyed and extracted agreed shares of water extracted from the Colorado River. However, the water available from the river is no longer keeping pace with the demands of increasing populations, and the shortfall is exacerbated by the effects of climate change, which according to some predictions will mean that by 2050 there could be a further 20 percent reduction in the river flow. In Nevada in particular, that excess of demand over supply has meant that the state has been drawing more water from Lake Mead –its principal and shared reservoir source – than has been entering the lake from upstream, and some predict could actually run dry in perhaps just two decades (Goldenberg 2012).
The remaining ten percent of Nevada’s water comes from groundwater, extracted from deep wells drilled down to underground aquifers in the Las Vegas valley. Most of these wells are operated during the summer months – the period of peak demand for water. The water in those aquifers is recharged by water filtering down from the Spring Mountains and the Sheep Range (“2014 Water Quality Report” 2014).
Lake Mead, the source of almost nine tenths of Southern Nevada’s fresh water, was created as a reservoir –America’s largest when full – by the building of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, which blocked the Colorado River to the east of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the excessive demands on its water over the years have been exacerbated by 14 years of drought in that part of the US, resulting in the lowest water levels since the Hoover Dam was constructed, leaving future water supplies at risk. The last time Lake Mead was full was in 1988. There is now a high water mark or “bathtub ring” (see Figure below) on rock faces at up to 130 feet above the present water level (Daily Mail Reporter 2014).

“Bathtub Ring” Lake Mead

(Source: Getty Images)
All of the water extracted from Lake Mead is examined and monitored on a weekly basis to ensure it is free of harmful bacteria such as E Coli, fecal coliforms, and Perchlorate. Furthermore, the levels of nutrients and dissolved oxygen are tested, as is the water temperature, turbidity, conductivity and pH value. The great depth of the water in the lake means that in the hotter summer months, the layer of water in the upper lake levels stays warmer than in the lower levels – a process called stratification. That causes most of the pollution and organisms to be held near the surface. In the winter that process can break down, causing destratification; i.e. all the water is at about the same temperature. That can mean pollution being much closer to the intakes for Nevada’s water supply, which is an important reason for the regular monitoring and testing of the water quality (“Water Quality: Lake Mead” n.d.).
All the water extracted from lake Mead by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is routed via one of two water treatment facilities, which are described by the SNWA as “state-of-the-art.” They are the Alfred Merritt Smith plant and the River Mountains plant. The Alfred Merritt Smith facility built in 1971 treats the majority of the drinking water supply, and can process a daily intake of 600 million gallons. After the complex process of filtration, it is treated with chlorine gas – a powerful disinfectant, which provides further protection for the remainder of the water’s journey to consumers. In 2003, an ozone treatment was added, which the SWNA claim puts the plant “on the cutting-edge of water treatment technology” (“Alfred Merritt Smith Water Treatment Facility” n.d.).
The second treatment plant, the River Mountains Water Treatment Facility began operations much later – in 2002. At present it can process 300 million gallons daily, but has been designed with the capability to increase that throughput to 600 million gallons, matching the other plant’s performance. This plant also uses ozonation as well as sodium hypochiorite for water disinfectant purposes (“River Mountains Water Treatment Facility” n.d.).
So what can be done to deal with the ever-decreasing availability of water from Lake Mead, in order the prevent Las Vegas from suffering threatened water supply cuts? Greater conservation and recycling efforts can help, but there is also a proposal to build a 260-mile pipeline, that would bring an annual 27 billion gallons of precious water from underground aquifers in a rural part of Nevada – a project costed at $15.5 billion. But permission has been denied by a court after litigation by environmentalists, based on the premise that it would have serious adverse effects on vast areas of meadows, trout streams, and extensive habitats populated by varieties of wildlife including “sage grouse, mule deer, elk and pronghorn.” Furthermore, the court heard that many snail species would be threatened with extinction. The environmental lobby claimed that the pipeline would merely delay inevitable decisions that need to be made about conserving our water supplies in parallel with restricting population growth in this region. It may even become necessary to reduce the population of Las Vegas. Although conservation measures are already in place, Las Vegas daily water consumption per capita is 219 gallons, whereas (for example) the San Francisco daily consumption is only 49 gallons. The city authorities are facing up to the situation. Foe example they are paying homeowners $1.50 per square foot to remove lawns, as irrigating a lawn in the Las Vegas climate uses a great deal of precious water. A local landscape gardener reported taking away one lawn that required an annual irrigation water total of 20,000 gallons (Allen 2014).
One (lesser) way that SNWA proposes to save water comes from an agreement it has negotiated with SunEdison Inc. which will allow that company to construct a 14 megawatt solar power plant in Clark County, Nevada. SNWA will purchase electricity from SunEdison at a fixed rate for 20 years. By not having to generate that amount of electricity from traditional fossil fuels, the authority will save over 100 million gallons of water. Savings come from not having to generate steam or provide cooling for power plant equipments, or flushing away fossil fuel residues. Construction of the solar plant is scheduled to begin around now with completion and operation due later this year (“Southern Nevada Water Authority Signs Power Purchase Agreement with SunEdison” 2014).

Works Cited:

“2014 Water Quality Report.” (May 2014). The Las Vegas Valley Water District. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.lvvwd.com/assets/pdf/wqreport.pdf>.
“Alfred Merritt Smith Water Treatment Facility.” (n.d.). Southern Nevada Water Authority. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.snwa.com/about/regional_treatment_amswtf.html>.
Allen, Nick. (Jun. 2014). “The race to stop Las Vegas from running dry.” The Telegraph. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10932785/The-race-to-stop-Las-Vegas-from-running-dry.html>.
Amaro, Yesenia. (Feb. 2014). “Lake Mead still largest reservoir in United States.” Las Vegas Review-Journal. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.reviewjournal.com/nevada-150/lake-mead-still-largest-reservoir-united-states>.
Daily Mail Reporter and AP. (Jul. 2014). “Fourteen YEAR drought leaves Lake Mead at all-time low: Eerie pictures of the abandoned marinas and tourist attractions left high and dry.” Mail Online. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2692335/Water-levels-Lake-Mead-time-low-14-year-drought-leaves-marinas-abandoned-tourist-attractions-bone-dry.html>.
Goldenberg, Suzanne. (March 2012). “Las Vegas bets on desert water pipeline as Nevada drinks itself dry.” The guardian. Web. Accessed 14 February 2015. URL: <http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/mar/22/las-vegas-desert-water-pipeline-nevada>.
“River Mountains Water Treatment Facility.” (n.d.). Southern Nevada Water Authority. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.snwa.com/about/regional_treatment_rmwtf.html>.
“Southern Nevada Water Authority Signs Power Purchase Agreement with SunEdison.” (Jul. 2014). PR Newswire. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/southern-nevada-water-authority-signs-power-purchase-agreement-with-sunedison-268081351.html>.
“Water Quality: Lake Mead.” (n.d.). Southern Nevada Water Authority. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.snwa.com/wq/watershed_lakemead.html>.
Wines, Michael. (Jan. 2014). “Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States.” The New York Times. Web. Accessed 15 February 2015. URL: <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/06/us/colorado-river-drought-forces-a-painful-reckoning-for-states.html?_r=0>.

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WePapers. (2020, November, 13) Water In Southern Nevada Essay Example. Retrieved December 07, 2022, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/water-in-southern-nevada-essay-example/
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"Water In Southern Nevada Essay Example." WePapers, Nov 13, 2020. Accessed December 07, 2022. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/water-in-southern-nevada-essay-example/
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Water In Southern Nevada Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/water-in-southern-nevada-essay-example/. Published Nov 13, 2020. Accessed December 07, 2022.
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