An artificial recharge well
One of the keys to maintaining a stable, reliable water supply is diversifying the community’s sources of water. Among the key components in the Southern Nevada Water Authority's (SNWA's) water resource portfolio is the Southern Nevada Groundwater Bank, a massive “natural” storage facility beneath the Las Vegas Valley.
Beginning in 1987, the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) and City of North Las Vegas, as SNWA member agencies, began pumping treated water from Lake Mead into the valley’s primary groundwater aquifer.
In the years since the program began, LVVWD and the City of North Las Vegas collectively have stored more than 320,000 acre-feet of water for the community’s use in times of need. That equates to roughly 104 billion gallons of water.
Currently, LVVWD has approximately 70 recharge/recovery wells – predominantly in the northwest part of the valley – with a total injection capacity of about 100 million gallons per day. It is the largest recharge program of its kind in the world.
The process by which this water is stored is called “artificial recharge.” It is called “artificial” because water in the principal groundwater aquifer normally originates from mountain snowpack. In the case of the Southern Nevada Groundwater Bank, the water is injected directly into the aquifer by wells.
Although it might seem tempting to forego conservation measures and simply withdraw some of that stored water from the Groundwater Bank during this period of drought, it is very important that the community keep these reserves on hand for an emergency or as a bridge to future resources. Maintaining a healthy balance in the Southern Nevada Groundwater Bank provides assurances to the community that we are prepared to weather an extended drought.
While the Southern Nevada Groundwater Bank is a resource upon which the community can draw in times of need, SNWA also sponsors a permanent recharge program to protect the groundwater aquifer. By injecting water into portions of the valley where the water table is susceptible to decline, SNWA is able to maintain stable water levels and reduce the likelihood of subsidence and well failures.