In Las Vegas, Nevada, it’s come to this: climate change has helped make water ever more scarce, so under a new Nevada law, the grass has got to go. “When we look at outdoor water use in Southern Nevada, landscaping far and away is the largest water user, and of that, it’s grass,” said Bronson Mack of the Las Vegas Water Authority.
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In 2000, Lake Mead was full of deep, midnight-blue water that flooded the banks of the rivers that fed it. But 20 years later, it has shrunken drastically. And its basins are lighter, too, almost teal in places, a sign of increasingly shallow waters connected by extraordinarily skinny canyons.
States in the Colorado River basin are scrambling to propose steep cuts in the water they’ll use from the river next year, in response to a call by the federal government for immediate, drastic efforts to keep the river’s main storage reservoirs from reaching critically low levels.
The trees had stood for more than 1,000 years. Their sturdy roots clung to the crumbling mountainside. Their gnarled limbs reached toward the desert sky. The rings of their trunks told the story of everything they’d witnessed — every attack they’d rebuffed, every crisis they’d endured. Weather patterns shifted; empires rose and fell; other species emerged, mated, migrated, died. But here, in one of the harshest environments on the planet, the bristlecone pines survived. It seemed they always would.
Stranded boats, desiccated fish, and no water on cracked ground that once made a shoreline. That’s the new business-as-usual for Lake Mead, where the West’s punishing drought and chronic water overuse have combined to render the lake almost unrecognizable as water levels continue to plummet.
Lake Mead, a reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, is drying up because of the ongoing drought in the western United States, France 24 reported. The water moving through the Hoover Dam provides electricity for hundreds of thousands of people living across the area.
Matt Blanchard and Shawn Rosen had settled into their 18-foot motorboat, put beers on ice and waited their turn at the last functioning boat launch on this rapidly disappearing body of water. It wasn’t until the old Bayliner was chugging away that Rosen mentioned an ulterior motive for their mid-June excursion.
Lawmakers last year outlawed turf that is only decorative, and property owners across the city are replacing grass with a mix of artificial turf and desert-friendly plants.
A top federal water official told Congress on Tuesday that shortages on the Colorado River system have taken an even grimmer turn, with a whopping 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of reduction in water use needed by 2023 just to keep Lake Mead functioning and physically capable of delivering drinking water, irrigation and power to millions of people.