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Las Vegas Completing Last Straw To Draw Lake Mead Water

LAS VEGAS (AP) — It took $817 million, two starts, more than six years and one worker's life to drill a so-called "Third Straw" for Las Vegas to keep getting water from a shrinking Lake Mead.

The pipeline is 600 feet underground, where a 3-mile tunnel runs horizontally to an intake at the very bottom of the lake. It'll be flooded this summer so residents and tourists can continue to draw water even if two other intakes go dry.

The project is the latest example of ways the parched West is scrambling to deal with 15 years of unprecedented drought. Californians are ripping out thirsty lawns and asking farmers to turn off spigots.

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Las Vegas has few choices. It gets about 90 percent of its water from the Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam.