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I watched a documentary this morning about how the water level on Lake Mead keeps dropping due to a historical 20+ year long drought. The lake's water level has been dropping due to a decrease in precipitation over the Rocky Mountains, an increase in the rate of water evaporation of Lake Mead, and also due to an increase in the need for fresh water for a growing population in the Greater Las Vegas region.

Lake Mead provides the vast majority of the drinking water for the Greater Las Vegas region and the population there will continue to grow at a high rate for the foreseeable future:

"Accounting for these factors and anticipating future trends, the population of the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise metro area in Nevada is projected to grow from 2,335,600 in 2022 to 4,450,000 in 2060. The 90.5% projected population growth in the metro area is the fifth highest of all 384 U.S. metro areas." - https://www.thecentersquare.com/nevada/las-vegas-nv-will-be-among-the-fastest-growing-cities-by-2060/article_daa06351-54fc-5b41-95ae-f8f07eab4fdf.html

The federal government should have a plan of action in place for supplying enough fresh water for the growing population of the Greater Las Vegas region, and also should have a plan of action for supplying enough water for the continued operation of the Hoover Dam, in the event of Lake Mead drying up in the near future. I am curious to know what those two plans are.

What are the U.S. government's plans for dealing with the event of Lake Mead drying up in the near future?

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  • $\begingroup$ Lake Mead won't "dry up". It might however drop below a level that precludes using Lake Mead as an electrical power source for the southwest. That is a key concern, and negotiations are underway. The allocations that give huge portions of the Colorado's waters to the hottest / most desertlike regions of California are also a concern. Once again, negotiations are underway. $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2022 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ This seems to be more of a political question than a geoscience question. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Dec 27, 2022 at 9:19

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The water supplied by the Colorado River is regulated by international treaties, tribal treaties, federal regulations, interstate agreements, and intrastate agreements. California gets the lion's share. Las Vegas doesn't get nearly as much as does California. The people of Las Vegas will have to make due with their limited allotment. The city has already done much to reduce per-person water consumption. Green lawns are already becoming a thing of the past in Las Vegas. California most likely will have to reduce its consumption as well. (Say hello to higher produce prices.)

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    $\begingroup$ The Bureau of Reclamation has already told the signers to make a new agreement to create large scale usage reduction, or it will make one for them. reminding them that the current agreement expires in 2026 at which point it can legally impose any new plan it wants. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 10, 2023 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ @John The idea of growing water-thirsty produce in a desert is a bit ludicrous, but it is what it is. California was the lone holdout on a recent agreement to update the 100 year old compact that allocates where Colorado River water goes. That compact allocated the lion's share of the lower Colorado River's waters to California. Channeling Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise, surprise," it is not at all surprising that California balked regarding reduced consumption. However, California's recalcitrance cannot last all that long given that that compact expires at the end of 2026. $\endgroup$ Feb 14, 2023 at 12:26

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