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Water shortages for Arizona, Nevada and California to begin in 2016 as Lake Mead reservoir plummets

Water wars

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(NaturalNews) If warning after warning is issued but no one listens, does that make it any less dire? That's a great question and one the nation will soon discover the answer to, if the drought situation in the West continues to worsen.

For more than a year NaturalNews and other outlets have been warning of the dire consequences that could befall civil society if drought-related water shortages continue or worsen. We've already reported, for instance, that increasingly desperate Californians have been stealing water already, both from city hydrants and from rural farms.

We've also reported that residents in North Texas have had to resort to drinking water from sewage because of the drought there.

And it's only going to get worse.

Now, Nevada is facing "significant possibilities" of major shortages of water if drought on the Colorado River continues into the next two years, says a worrisome forecast delivered recently by a federal government agency.

"Shortages are on the way"

As further reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Michael Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, said there is a 20 percent chance of shortages in Nevada and Arizona in 2016 if levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell continue to drop, "and it goes up to almost 50 percent after that."

Connor briefed members of the House Interior subcommittee who met to review the department's budget request for the coming year. Connor, the department's No. 2 leader and its ranking expert on water, appeared alongside Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The frank assessment does not surprise many local Nevadans who have, for the past two years, watched in shock as water levels at Lake Mead have continued to drop, leaving boat ramps high and dry and uncovered the remains of small communities that at one point were far below the surface.

The paper said that in July, Lake Mead fell to a record low that has not been recorded since the reservoir began filling up in the late 1930s (when, by the way, was during the "Dust Bowl" drought years in other parts of the West and Southwest).

The continued worsening of drought conditions has led three states - Nevada, California and Arizona - to forge together a number of cooperative initiatives to bank water and save the lake from draining completely, especially since it provides 90 percent of the water for Las Vegas.

Meanwhile the Southern Nevada Water Authority is managing the drilling of a new deep-water intake pipe which will act like a straw to allow water to be pumped into Lake Mead even as its levels continue to fall.

By capacity, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which is located upstream from Mead, are the country's two largest reservoirs. Combined they have the capability of storing 50 million acre-feet of water (one acre-foot is enough to supply a pair of average Las Vegas Valley homes for better than a year).

"Water wars"

Just 15 years ago both lakes were at their banks. However, years of drought in the mountains above that feed water to them via snowmelt into the Colorado River has had a dramatic impact on capacity. Today the reservoirs are at less than 50 percent capacity, according to Conner, who is the former director of the Bureau of Reclamation.

"When we hit elevation 1,075 (feet above sea level in Lake Mead), the states of Nevada and Arizona will start taking shortages," he told congressmen.

"Right now we will not have a shortage in 2015, but we are looking at significant possibilities starting in 2016 and 2017," he added.

If the drought continues to worsen, others are predicting more theft and even water wars as desperate residents of desperate communities take matters into their own hands.





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