$700M in Fed Funding Announced to Boost Water Levels in Vegas-Adjacent Lake Mead

Posted on: June 6, 2024, 03:54h. 

Last updated on: June 6, 2024, 02:49h.

The Department of the Interior on Thursday announced an initial $700 million in federal funding to help boost the water level at Lake Mead.

In a press release, the department shared its hope that this investment could return “more than 700,000 acre-feet of water” to Lake Mead.

Despite improvements made in recent months, an historic 23-year drought has led to record low water levels at the nation’s largest human-made reservoir, which supplies 90% of the water for the Las Vegas Strip and the rest of Southern Nevada.

As of June 6, the water in Lake Mead sits at 1,066 feet above sea level. This is better than its measurements in June 2022 (1,043 feet) and June 2023 (1,055 feet), but still 163 feet (12.6%) short of full.

Lake Mead and the Lower Colorado River Basin supply more than 40 million people with water, as well as fueling hydropower in seven US states.

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to making western communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” Secretary Deb Haaland is quoted as saying in the press release. “Building on our significant efforts to protect the Colorado River System, we are continuing to make smart investments through the President’s Investing in America agenda to strengthen the stability and sustainability of the Colorado River System.”


The $700 million is earmarked for water distribution structures, advanced metering infrastructure, farm efficiency improvements, canal lining, turf removal, groundwater banking, water recycling and purification efforts, and another potential conservation method we’re hearing for the first time in an official press release: desalinization.

Lake Mead is 272 miles from the nearest large body of salt water, the Pacific Ocean, and constructing a pipeline that long is still not widely regarded as feasible.

Instead, the government is more likely to invest in a desalination plant in Mexico — where the Colorado River empties into the Gulf of California at the base of the Baja Peninsula — and then trade that investment for a portion of Mexico’s Colorado River water rights.

This is the latest announcement of funding by the Lower Colorado Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program, established through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 to address climate change and the drought crisis.