Water Level in the Las Vegas Valley

Geologists and engineers were studying ground water conditions in the Las Vegas Valley from its first settlement. The engineers who surveyed routes for the railroad were concerned to identify possible water sources and identified the existence of the aquifer. The ranches in the region were all located around well-known natural springs which were channeled for irrigation. The wide-scale drilling to support new development contributed to a general knowledge of the water level, and it was well known, and often advertised and promoted, how far a well had to be sunk and how much water then flowed. The prevailing popular attitude about the ground water was that it was inexhaustible, and photographs from the early period of Las Vegas show numerous wells gushing water with the proud owners congratulating themselves as if they had struck oil.

A number of important studies of the ground water in southern Nevada were done by the United States Geological Survey, the first in 1915 by Everett Carpenter and then in 1945 and 1948 by George Maxey and C.H. Jameson. The work of Maxey and Jameson and their published reports did much to convince people that their water supply was not infinite and that new sources for water needed to be found, and new curbs on drilling and consumption imposed. The scientific and technical study of the quantity and quality of water in the Las Vegas Valley and Lake Mead has continued as the city and region struggles with drought conditions, unchecked urban sprawl, and the potential ecological impact of nuclear waste storage in Yucca Mountain.

1914/15

Everett Carpenter's, Ground water in Southeastern NV published

Map of southern NV ground water conditions

1938 Investigative report titled, “Underground leakage from artesian wells
1939 Telegrams from Bracken to railroad engineer Mack discussing drop in reservoir water level
1945

Progress Report on Ground Water Resources, written by G.B. Maxey published

Newspaper clipping from RJ story about water level decline shown in USGS survey

1947 Water Resource Bulletin #3 titled, Report on Water Levels
1965

Available Water Supply in the Las Vegas ground-water base

1308-20 accompanying maps

1980 Map  of Las Vegas SE Quadrangle; general ground water
1985 Map of Las Vegas SW quadrangle : ground water 
1992 Publication date of "The impact of a water imposed interruption of growth in the Las Vegas region"