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New panel of experts to explore drought solutions

Some of Nevada’s top water conservation and climate science minds are coming together to help the state handle the worsening drought and declining levels at Lake Mead.

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Aug. 24 that he has formed a new three-person water advisory council that will be tasked with figuring out how Nevada can conserve even more water in the future. Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager John Entsminger, Pat Mulroy, who was Entsminger’s predecessor as Southern Nevada’s water czar, and Nevada’s senior climate policy coordinator Kristen Averyt will serve on the council.

“I am sure with the expertise of these advisers we can ensure sure that we continue to be on the forefront of cutting-edge technology and innovation,” Sisolak said during a news conference at Lake Mead. “They can help us best understand where we can most conserve and most invest our dollars in order to protect the residents of this valley and work with other states that are in the same situation.”

The governor announced the new advisory council after a tour of the water authority’s low-lake-level pumping station at Lake Mead, which was turned on in spring because of declining water levels. The station will allow water managers to pump water from the reservoir to the Las Vegas Valley even if Lake Mead drops roughly 150 feet farther to its “dead pool,” a point in which Hoover Dam would not be able to pass water downstream to California, Arizona and Mexico.

Averyt, who is also a UNLV research professor specializing in climate resilience and urban sustainability, said she hopes the group will be able to lean on members’ different areas of expertise to come up with new solutions to Nevada’s water issues and plans to look at how other countries, namely Israel and Australia, have dealt with drought issues and what they need to do to bring those to Nevada and the West.

“I challenge anybody to come to Lake Mead, look at what’s happening here and not say, ‘Oh gee, we have a problem.’ It truly is the manifestation of climate change right now,” Averyt said.

She also hopes the group will be able to persuade other jurisdictions to implement conservation measures that are already in place in Southern Nevada, which she said will only serve to benefit Lake Mead in the long run.

“It’s going to take different perspectives, different sectors to really make sure we come up with a comprehensive portfolio approach to addressing our water challenges,” she said.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com .

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