LAS VEGAS -- If you have been to Lake Mead, you can visibly see how low the water supply is getting. Conditions have now pushed the federal government to meet with western states to plan the water future.
The drought has surged on for about 11 years, but the Southern Nevada Water Authority says the state has plans in place that will allow homes and lawns to continue to exist.
"When we hit 1,025 (feet), we will have stopped generating electricity. When we hit 1,025, the amount of water left in Lake Mead is barely enough to meet a single year's allocation," said Pat Mulroy with the SNWA.
Right now, the lake level is at 1,100 feet and the water authority has managed to store, lease, or buy enough water to keep things running smoothly even if Lake Mead was to drop below 1,025 feet.
But if the lake drops below that point, there will be shortages. Right now, forecasts could have the lake below 1,025 feet in less than two years.
"There is a 20-percent probability that we would hit an elevation that would take us below 1,025 (feet), which would result in a shortage. There is a 13-percent probability that we would be in surplus and a 67-percent probability that it would be normal," said Lorri Gray-Lee, Lower Colorado Regional Director with the Bureau of Reclamation.
Congressional leaders joined in the panel discussion along side the Subcommittee on Water and Power Oversight. Because Nevada depends so heavily on Lake Mead, not only for water but also power, they wanted to make sure a plan is in place if the lake continues to drop.
Conservation will play a role in making sure levels do not drop quickly. The SNWA says many people cutting back on use and ripping out their lawns is helping.
The subcommittee met with representative from Arizona earlier this week and plan to meet with other states before offering a recommendation in Washington.
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