Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Short History Of Las Vegas And Water

I am one sick human being.
My first thought on seeing "The Las Vegas Land and Water Company" was to inquire whether the company had any outstanding bonds with weird covenants and/or gold backing. I kid you not. Obsessive, Moi?

From ProPublica:

Vegas Water History
1905The Las Vegas Land and Water Company is formed to build and operate groundwater wells which the city then depended on for decades.
1922The seven basin states sign the Colorado River Compact, estimating the river's annual supply at 18 million acre-feet of water and dividing 15 million acre-feet between the northern and southern states. The river would eventually prove to flow with just 14.8 million acre-feet a year.
1928The Boulder Canyon Project Act authorizes construction of the Hoover Dam and split the water shares up between states. Nevada only gets 97.8 billion gallons, while California is given 1.4 trillion gallons, an imbalance that complicates relations to this day.
1941A pipeline is constructed by Basic Management Inc., to take water from the Colorado River in Lake Mead and deliver it to Las Vegas for the first time.
1956Congress passes the Colorado River Storage Project, authorizing the construction of some of the largest dams on the river, including Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, New Mexico's Navajo and Colorado's Aspinall Unit.
1963Supreme Court settles Arizona vs. California, deciding a key aspect of Western water law and allowing Arizona, Nevada and California to withdraw unlimited water from their tributary rivers without counting it against their share of the Colorado River, further straining the system's supply.  
1971The first phase of construction on the Southern Nevada Water System is completed, enhancing Las Vegas' reliance on the Colorado River for its water.


We haven't seen much from ProPublica since they won the Pulitzer a few years ago, thanks to Flowing Data for the pointer:
Growth of Las Vegas metro and skyline
Western cities are growing but water supplies are decreasing. That's not good. ProPublica, as part of their series Killing the Colorado, focuses on the fastest growing Western city: Las Vegas.

In 1971, the Las Vegas metro area was home to 262,000 people. Today, the population is approaching 2 million. Since 1990, its footprint has more than doubled. Managing urban growth is critical to the future of the West's previous — and declining — water supplies....

UPDATED--"Las Vegas about to run out of water, go ‘out of business’"
Clock is Ticking on Las Vegas' Water Supply and The Elvis Portfolio
"Water Crisis: Lake Mead, Largest US Reservoir, Faces Federal 'Water Emergency,' Forced Rationing"
Las Vegas Running Out of Water Means Dimming Los Angeles Lights