LAS VEGAS — The Southern Nevada Water Authority is making deals with Arizona and Mexico to ensure enough H20 in the years to come for the Las Vegas area.
The authority plans to spend up to $7.5 million in Mexico over the next 10 years in exchange for more Colorado River water.
Authority board members approved the payments Thursday as they also approved a sweeping water-sharing agreement the U.S. and Mexico are expected to sign next month, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports (http://bit.ly/2vitRHI ).
Under the pact, the authority, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and water agencies in Arizona and California would provide $31.5 million for water efficiency improvements in Mexico through 2026. In return, the agencies would share nearly enough Colorado River water to supply the Las Vegas Valley for one year.
Mexico is expected to use the money to line canals, repair pipes, curb runoff from farm fields and other water-saving projects.
Before Thursday’s board vote, water authority General Manager John Entsminger said the broader treaty amendment is important to both countries because it spells out what is expected of everyone if a shortage is declared on the Colorado River. Otherwise, he said, the U.S. and Mexico could find themselves in a fight over the river at the same time they’re trying to manage “a potential water crisis,” he said.
The new pact also outlines a series of voluntary water cuts Mexico has agreed to make to slow the decline of Lake Mead and stave off a first-ever federal shortage declaration.
Nevada, Arizona and California have agreed in principle to similar voluntary cuts as part of a so-called Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan Entsminger said he hopes to see finalized by the three states sometime next year.