Nevada water officials consider third intake pipe at Lake Mead
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Southern Nevada Water Authority officials are considering spending tens of millions of dollars on a third intake to draw water from Lake Mead.A third pipe, which would be deeper than the existing two, might be needed to ensure access to drinking water if the lake level continues dropping, authority officials said. The water level at Lake Mead is about 1,126 feet above sea level and has dropped about 90 feet in the past five years.”As the lake level starts to decline, the quality of the water starts to decline,” said Amanda Cyphers, chair of the water authority board. “The clarity is better at lower levels, and we need to find solutions.”Water officials said it’s too early in the evaluation of a third intake to say how much it could cost or when it would be built. The second intake, which became operational in 2002, cost $80 million and took two years to construct.Cyphers, who is also a Henderson city councilwoman, and Rory Reid, board vice chairman and a Clark County commissioner, both supported studying a third intake for the drought-stricken lake, which provides about 90 percent of the water used in the Las Vegas area.Reid said the water authority needs the study because the continued emptying of the lake creates efficiency and water quality problems for the existing intakes.During a Monday meeting with a citizens advisory committee, Marc Jensen, the water authority’s engineering director, said the new intake would essentially replace the first, which will become inoperable if the water level continues falling.The first intake was built in 1971 and was designed to take in water at 1,050 feet above sea level. In July, an extension of the intake was completed that enabled water to be drawn at 1,000 feet. The second intake also draws from 1,000 feet.But even with the extension, the first intake will not work if the lake level drops below 1,050 feet.
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