Lake Mead could be dry by 2014

Real Estate Agent with Francis Group Real Estate

Will Lake Mead Dry Up? 

It appears that falling real estate prices in Las Vegas could be the least of our worries according to two researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In the latest news release, some very disturbing statistics were released including a 10% chance that Lake Mead could dry up by the year 2014 and a 50% chance that Lake Mead could dry up by 2021.

And while we are at it, let's throw in the 50% chance that the levels for Lake Mead will be too low to generate hydroelectric power generation by 2017.

Is this a worst case doomsday report? Not according to this statement:

"Barnett said that the researchers chose to go with conservative estimates of the situation in their analysis, though the water shortage is likely to be more dire in reality."

Colorado Water Flow for Las VegasMy interpretation of that report is the chances are actually higher then what is being predicted.

As you can see from the chart on the right, the low levels of snow in recent years have had quite an impact and I thought my Las Vegas Real Estate Snow Report with all of the snow that Colorado has been getting this year would help out. (The Chart to the right is for 2007 but you can see the big impact that the low snow levels of 2000 through 2004 had on Lake Mead.)

So, what is being done about it?

Obviously, water levels for Lake Mead have gone down significantly and steps have already been taken to cut down on the use of water but they may not be aggressive enough according to the latest report.

You can read about all of the conservation efforts at the Southern Nevada Water Authority site. In addition, you can read about this proposed project to bring water to Las Vegas which in my opinion only appears to be a simple patch and somewhere in there you can read that the project is not anticipated to be completed by 2014. In addition, the proposed amount of water that it will bring hardly comes close to matching this statement from the latest report:

"Barnett and Pierce concluded that human demand, natural forces like evaporation, and human-induced climate change are creating a net deficit of nearly 1 million acre-feet of water per year from the Colorado River system that includes Lake Mead and Lake Powell."

An acre foot of water equals approximately 325,851 gallons so we are going to need to go out and buy 325,851,000 gallons of water from Arrowhead to dump into Lake Mead to make up for this.

Ok, not a good solution but the CNET Green Blog was kind enough to consider some stocks for you to consider in their Lake Mead Report.

There is quite a bit of money invested into several Multi-Billion dollar projects in Las Vegas and something tells me that the latest report is going to make some headlines considering all of the people it has an impact on.

In addition, I'm wondering how seriously this report will be taken and the effect it will have on all of that land owned by Focus Property Group for future development. It was just recently announced that Focus Property Group stopped making interest payments on land secured loans and is attempting to negotiate with the lenders. 

It will certainly be interesting.

*Update -- Another report on Fox News with other opinions.

"Larry Dozier, deputy general manager at the Central Arizona Project, which supplies Colorado River water to the Phoenix and Tucson areas, called the Scripps study "absurd."

Paul Francis, ABR,CRS | Coldwell Banker Premier | Las Vegas Real Estate | 702.592.3058

Search for Las Vegas Real Estate

Below is a chart showing the historical water levels of Lake Mead. The correlations between snow and the water levels are more then obvious.

historical water levels at Lake Mead

Comments (7)

Bob Jakowinicz
National Realty Centers Livonia--Bob Jakowinicz - Livonia, MI
Michigan Real Estate Agent-- MI Real Adventures
Could be very interesting.  Weather is great there but water shortages could be a huge problem for the Vegas area. 
Feb 13, 2008 11:23 PM
Paul Francis
Francis Group Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Agent - Summerlin Homes


It's just not Las Vegas, it effects millions of people in Arizona and Southern Cal also.

Feb 13, 2008 11:37 PM
Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros
When you build in the sessert  dah !!!! Of course here we doubled the population in 10 years and can't figure out why we have a water problem just south of us in Atlanta so a big Dah for us too
Feb 13, 2008 11:56 PM
Chris Frantz
EDU Real Estate Group - Indianapolis, IN
They better start building desalinization plants on the Pacific coast and start laying pipe.
Feb 14, 2008 12:25 AM
Paul Francis
Francis Group Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Agent - Summerlin Homes


I certainly agree and precisely why the CNET green blog threw this in: "Some companies to keep your eye on include NanoH20 (a desalination company)."

If this latest report has any merit, I would certainly think it will have a big impact on future building. (Not like we need to build anything more for the time being anyways.)

Feb 14, 2008 12:46 AM
Cindy Bryant
Redesign Etc. Home Staging - Houston, TX
"Houston Home Staging Pros"
My brother-in-law has been talking about this for years, do you really think it's possible?
Feb 17, 2008 03:55 PM
Paul Francis
Francis Group Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Agent - Summerlin Homes


While I think the Scripps report has merit I don't think it will happen due to the fact, as you point out, "My Brother in law has been talking about this for years".... Along with hundreds of thousands (ok.. millions) of other people.

The Scripps report shoud certainly open up some eyes for seeking long term solutions today to help insure that it does not happen.

But... (which seemed to for whatever reason not be mentioned in all of the headlines) As the chart above shows, the current low levels at Lake Mead are primarily due to the low amounts of snow in Utah and Colorado for the past several years.  So far this year, from my understanding, snow levels are at record highs in Colorado. Here is a recent snow report if you ski -->

"Vail has received 245 inches since Dec. 1, which is more snow than any other year in its history. Beaver Creek recorded its snowiest December and January since 1996 and has tallied more than 23 feet so far this season.

With the deepest snow that's fallen at Heavenly Mountain Resort in 30-plus years, resort officials decided to extend their season 14 extra days to Sunday, May 4. Heavenly reported its snowiest January on record with more than 13 feet in just 31 days."

From what I remember, it was in 1984 when water levels at Lake Mead actually reached overflow levels. So, for all the people out there that don't have a clue of where the water at Lake Mead comes from in the first place, the current problems are more of a condition of low snow levels for seven of the last eight years.

But, as we know in the real estate industry, the gloom and doom headlines reported in the mainstream media don't always tell the whole story.

I've updated the blog entry to include a chart of Lake Mead water levels and as you will be able to see, there is an obvious correlation between snow in Colorado and the level of Lake Mead. You'll also be able to see that it's been at this level (and even lower) in the past.


Feb 17, 2008 10:38 PM