Water Sense
              Water Fact  Sheet
               evada is a state defined by contrasts. With moun-
               tain lakes and arid scrublands, cattle ranches
               and extreme sports, Nevada represents the
       vast array of opportunities offered by the American
       West. From the pristine wilderness near LakeTahoe to
       the world-class shows in Las Vegas, Nevada also enjoys
       a booming tourism industry. Although Las Vegas has
       become an oasis of economic prosperity in the desert, the entire Silver
       State has also come to typify the nation's  increasingly urgent need to pro-
       tect its diminishing water  resources.
       The Sierra Nevada Mountains in northern
       Nevada can receive up to 40 inches of precipita-
       tion each year, but southern Nevada averages
       less than five inches of rain annually. Las Vegas
       rests in this desert region where temperatures
       frequently exceed 100 degrees. Varied rainfall,
       paired with a growing population, arid climate,
       and ongoing drought conditions, stress the
       state's existing water supply. With Nevada's 2020
       water demand expected to increase by 39 per-
       cent compared to demand in 2000, using water
       efficiently is more important than ever.
        Growth Challenges
       According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Nevada has
       been one of the nation's fastest-growing states,
       with population increasing 28.4 percent
       between 2000 and 2007 to 2.5 million people. If
       current trends continue, Nevada will have 4.3
       million residents by 2030. The Las Vegas metro-
                             politan area has nearly 2 million residents and
                             hosts as many as 40 million visitors annually.
                             This population boom strains natural resources
                             and poses challenges to the state's water infra-
                             structure. In a part of the nation where water
                             resources are already scant, drought and popula-
                             tion growth present a formidable challenge.
                             Though a limited resource, surface water sources
                             provide nearly 70 percent of Nevada's total water
                             supply. Although Nevada gets the smallest share
                             of Colorado River water—just 1.8 percent—it
                             constitutes 90 percent of the water supply for
                             the Las Vegas region. Las Vegas draws its
                             Colorado River water directly from Lake Mead,
                             the body of water created by the completion of
                             the Hoover Dam in 1935. The availability of this
                             resource is directly linked to the runoff from the
                             spring and summer snowmelt on the western
                             slope of the Rocky Mountains, which has been
                             declining due to drought in recent years.
June 2010
(866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) • www.epa.gov/watersense • watersense@epa.gov
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Ground water provides the remainder of the
water supply used in Nevada and in some areas
provides the entire supply. In Las Vegas, ground-
water pumping occurs primarily in the summer
months as a supplement to meet peak water
use demands. With the surface water resources
in Nevada allocated to serving existing
demands, future needs must rely on extended
development of sustainable groundwater
sources, reallocation of surface water supplies,
and increased water efficiency.

Looking to  the Future
Nevada officials have evaluated existing water
sources and developed various water plans and
strategies to prepare for the state's increasing
population and the potential effects of climate
change and prolonged drought. With water
sources in short supply, Nevada is setting its
sights on conservation, water reuse projects,
and infrastructure upgrades.The Southern
Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), for example,
works closely with seven agencies in the Las
Vegas region to adopt water-efficiency policies
for new development, regulations prohibiting
the waste of water, and rebate programs that
help existing customers to decrease water
demand. The SNWA's most successful rebate
program has replaced nearly 150 million square
feet of ornamental lawns with water-efficient
trees and plantings and  low-volume irrigation
systems, saving an estimated 8 billion gallons
annually. Indoors, the SNWA promotes
WaterSense® labeled products for both new
construction and retrofit projects.
Through a number of such conservation meas-
ures, southern Nevada's annual water consump-
tion decreased by nearly 26 billion gallons
between  2002 and 2009, despite a population
increase of 400,000 and approximately 40 mil-
lion annual visitors.
One approach to supply water to Nevada's
influx of residents is new infrastructure projects
that will increase the available water sources.
SNWA is working on a new intake pipe to draw
water from Lake Mead. This new intake, called
the "third straw," ensures the community can
continue to use Colorado River water even if the
lake level continues to drop.
Nevada residents also help by using water more
efficiently in their homes. For example, if every
home in Nevada replaced older, inefficient
showerheads with WaterSense labeled models,
it could save more than 6 million gallons of
water per day. That's enough water to fill the
famous Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas nearly
100 times a year. Additionally, it could save
$13 million in water bills and $30 million in
energy costs associated with heating water. For
more information and water-saving tips, visit
  Lake Mead in Transition
  Over the past decade, precipitation in the
  Rocky Mountain region has declined  due to
  drought. This consistently drier weather has
  drastically affected the Colorado River and
  other surface water sources. Since 2000, the
  water level in Lake Mead has dropped more
  than 100 feet, a difference of about 5 trillion
  To ensure the Hoover Dam continues to pro-
  duce power and Nevada maintains access to
  its water supply, the seven states that depend
  upon the Colorado River have forged agree-
  ments to significantly reduce their water
  demands to protect the lake.