Authorities have completed a series of inspections to confirm that water in a nearby lake is safe to drink and can be pumped through pipes, Maria Gilvary, the city’s utility director, told CNN. New lake water can give water for about 100 days or more.
Meanwhile, the city’s water conservation efforts have increased the current supply to about 30 days, Gilbury said. Combined, these water sources effectively provide Las Vegas with just over four months of fresh water. Authorities will use this time to implement new treatment processes that can treat contaminated water.
“This is a temporary solution to keep us water,” Gilvary said. “We still need to resolve upstream water quality issues.”
The hillsides around New Mexico City were devastated this spring by the largest wildfires on record in the state, burning more than 340,000 acres. Then an unusually wet monsoon season brought heavy rainfall in the summer. This is usually celebrated in the drought-stricken West, but instead, rainfall washed debris into local water systems, resulting in disaster after disaster.
Not only was there too much sediment in the water for water treatment plants to handle, but it also posed serious health risks. Combusted organic matter can be carcinogenic when it reacts with the high levels of chlorine used in water treatment.
City officials spent the weekend testing and pretreating water from nearby Story Lake. They had to conduct a number of tests to make sure the water was fit for drinking and that there was enough water pressure to bring it to the residents’ taps.
The city is also working to acquire a newer and updated water treatment center to treat river and other reservoir sediments. Las Vegas Mayor Rui Trujillo previously told CNN he hopes a long-term solution can be found.
“The silver lining for me is that the most permanent solution to this is to replace the water treatment plant and improve some of the infrastructure,” he said. But now I get it.”
Still, there will be some sediment in drinking water for the next 10 years, Gilvery previously told CNN, simply because fires burned a large swath of land around Las Vegas.