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Monsoon Rains Impact Water Quality In Southern Nevada

Davis Dam
By No machine readable author provided. Kjkolb assumed (based on copyright claims) GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5

Davis Dam along the the Colorado River is part of the Big Bend Water District.

Monsoon season is a time when those living in the valley can catch a little respite from the heat.

But as storms swept the valley this weekend, people in Laughlin got word that they were under a boiled water order from the Big Bend Water District.

Residents were asked to boil their water before cooking or drinking it due to mud and sediment entering the Colorado River, which is Laughlin's main water supply.

The order was lifted Tuesday afternoon after testing showed the water was clear.

After the storm on Friday, July 17, the flood water carried sediment and clay through the desert into the water, and although officials from the water district said there was no bacteria present in the water, the risk from the turbidity was there.

"With sediment in the water, you have a contaminant that could essentially hitchhike through the treatment process on a grain of sand, if you will, and then make its way through the distribution system," said Bronson Mack, spokesperson for the Big Bend Water District.

Many of Laughlin's restaurants were forced to close for a period of time because of the order. 

Mack assured KNPR that it wouldn't be likely for a similar situation to happen to Las Vegas, since the primary water supply comes from Lake Mead.

"Because Lake Mead is such an immense body of water, flood water coming in is very easily diluted and settled out before reaching critical infrastructure or water intake," Mack said.

Volunteers with the Big Bend Water District and Clark County, as well as the Southern Nevada Red Cross and Three Square provided nearly 3,500 cases of water to Laughlin residents.

Bronson Mack, spokesperson, Big Bend Water District

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.