From: Ken Ritter, Associated Press
Published December 17, 2004 12:00 AM

Nevada Officials Approve Money-for-Water Deal with Arizona to Supply Fast-Growing Las Vegas Area

LAS VEGAS — Nevada officials Thursday approved a $330 million water-sharing pact with Arizona designed to ensure supplies for tens of thousands of new homes planned for the booming Las Vegas metropolitan area over the next several years.


Under the deal, Nevada will buy 1.25 million acre-feet of Arizona's Colorado River water allotment over the next 15 years. An acre-foot -- the amount of water that can cover an acre to a depth of 1 foot -- is enough to supply up to two households for a year.


"This provides a real lifeline for us," said Richard Bunker, chairman of the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.


He said most Nevada residents did not realize how close state officials came to limiting the use of water from the Colorado River, which provides about 90 percent of the drinking water in Las Vegas, one of the nation's fastest-growing cities.


There are no plans to raise rates for existing Nevada customers. The costs instead will be paid by new customers hooking up to the water system.


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Nevada officials called the deal an important "bridge" to help the area withstand a drought. The pact will also provide time to tap underground water.


Tim Henley, manager of the Arizona Water Banking Authority, said his state could spare water because of strict conservation efforts begun years ago. "We have that luxury right now because of things we've done to plan for our future," he said.


Source: Associated Press


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