Image: Lake Mead
Laura Rauch  /  AP file
The reduction in water levels due to drought on Lake Mead can be seen by the white ring around the shore at Hoover Dam in Boulder City. Climate changes and a growing population could conspire to dry up two key water resources, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, within 13 years, scientists warn.
updated 7/24/2008 1:07:59 PM ET 2008-07-24T17:07:59

A new study predicts that climate change will create devastating drought in this state and throughout the Southwest and continue to drop the levels of already low Lake Mead and Lake Powell, threatening the water supply for 2 million Nevadans.

The prediction came as part of a study released Wednesday by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Center for Integrative Environmental Research.

The study, paid for in part by the Environmental Defense Fund, analyzed the economic and environmental costs of global warming on 12 states around the country.

By 2100, average temperatures in Nevada may increase by up to four degrees in the spring and fall and by up to six degrees in the summer and winter, and El Niño conditions are likely to increase in frequency and duration, the report states.

"These temperature changes will have major effects on evaporation and precipitation in the state. The decreased availability of water statewide is likely to affect development, tourism and power production," the study adds.

"Unless we take action to cut the pollution causing climate change we will further jeopardize Nevada's water supply," Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director, Environmental Defense Fund, said in a press release.

"The threat to the water supply in Nevada and other Western states demonstrate that the most expensive thing we can do about climate change is ignore it."

According to the study, severe drought caused by climate change will constrain development and construction, which account for 157,000 jobs across the state; and damage water-based recreation which brings in over $1 billion annually.

Such drought conditions also would cost government agencies more than $3.5 billion to build new pipelines to meet Las Vegas' water demands, the report states.

The report also says an increase of only a few degrees in an already warm climate can cause severe health problems and lead to more ozone pollution.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments