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Drought Might Cost Clark County Citizens Another $650 Million

Water is the lifeblood of Las Vegas.

Without the water we take from Lake Mead, this city in the desert will die.

So far, we’ve sunk not one, not two, but three “straws” into Lake Mead to meet our thirst. The third intake, an $870 million tunnel 20 feet in diameter, will be three years overdue if finished this July.

But it was dug as a failsafe against the 14-year drought we’re currently in.

In June, the tunnel’s project manager, Erika Moonin, told Popular Science magazine that the third intake, quote: “basically drought-proofs our existing intakes.”

Now an advisory panel is recommending a $650 million water project, with another water rate hike to pay for it.

The money would be used to build a new pumping station that Terry Murphy with the Integrated Resource Planning Advisory Committee calls insurance.

Murphy told KNPR’s State of Nevada that even though it is unlikely the drought will get worse, it could and the area needs to be prepared.

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“In the event Lake Mead drops below 1,000 feet, we won’t be able to pump water to homes and businesses in the Las Vegas valley. So essentially, it is an insurance policy,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the last 100 years of flows in the Colorado River were actually more than the last millennium, which means it is possible for the lake to drop below the 1,000 foot mark.

The rate hike to pay for the proposed pumping station would be between $3.67 and $4.81 a month, depending on how it is funded.   


Terry Murphy, Las Vegas consultant, the Integrated Resource Planning Advisory Committee of the Southern Nevada Water Authority

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