Progress being made on third straw at Lake Mead

LAS VEGAS -- The more snow on the Rocky Mountains means more water eventually flows into Lake Mead, which keeps southern Nevada from a water shortage.

However, Lake Mead water levels are at their lowest point in decades. Nevada is in the middle of a six-year drought.

The water elevation is currently 1,082 feet, which is seven feet above the mark when a shortage can be declared.

On Thursday, the Southern Nevada Water Authority updated the public on the third drinking water intake at Lake Mead, also known as the third straw.

The intake allows SNWA to get water from deeper below the lake's surface.

"It's a big project but it's a project that gives us a third option for getting water out of Lake Mead," General Manager of SNWA John Entsminger said.

After six years, Entsminger says this enormous undertaking is 75 percent complete.

Clark County Commissioner and SNWA board member Steve Sisolak says more options are necessary, if water levels continue to fall.

"It's something that we're really concerned about. We can handle it on the consumption end. We can't do anything about the amount of water that's going into there and that's where we just need to get a couple of breaks," Sisolak said.

Sisolak says they hope to ramp up efforts on what is called cloud seeding, a proven method of weather modification. It is a means of increasing snowpack in the mountains that feed into the Colorado River.

The third intake involves a huge tunnel-boring machine that chews through solid rock underneath Lake Mead.

It is expected to be complete in about one year.


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