Assessing Drought Risk and Vulnerability

Las Vegas, Nevada

Featured image for the project, Assessing Drought Risk and Vulnerability

Courtesy of the city of Las Vegas


The Challenge

The City of Las Vegas uses a lot of water despite having fewer sources of water. Yet, between 2002 and 2014, despite an increased population, the City managed to cut its consumption of Colorado river water by 30%. In 2013, the City conducted the Southern Nevada Extreme Events Assessment through sit-down interviews with representatives of key sectors of the community. Using extreme event scenarios (drought, extreme heat, and flash flooding), sensitivity and adaptive capacity were assessed to quantify the vulnerability levels of these systems to extreme low lake levels, an extreme heat wave, and an extreme storm event. The outcomes of the assessment interviews were combined ranking scores for vulnerability and risk. Risk scoring considered recovery periods, associated costs, and other factors.


Although this effort has been a good first step towards developing a regional vulnerability and risk assessment, the City of Las Vegas Planning Department would like to take concrete steps towards a regional vulnerability risk assessment starting with drought.


Las Vegas at AGU Fall Meeting

Lorenzo Mastino attended the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, CA to present a poster highlighting recent accomplishments and next steps for the Las Vegas TEX project. Click here to download his poster!


Assessment of Vulnerability to Climate Change Effects on Urban Stormwater Infrastructure in City of Las Vegas, NV

vegas-posterIn the spring of 2016 the City of Las Vegas and the Southern Illinois University began collaborating on a project that seeks to assess the city’s current vulnerability to drought, extreme heat, and extreme precipitation patterns, as well as the response mechanisms that are already in place within its jurisdiction. The document analyzes a series of scenarios to assess to what extent the vulnerability of four Key Planning Areas will change in the long term (30-50 years), what will be the most affected city operations, and what mechanisms the City will need to put into place to adapt to such changes. As part of the vulnerability report, this study assessed the impacts of climate change in the existing stormwater system of the Gowan watershed within City of Las Vegas, NV, by assessing projected design storms. The climate change projection for the region was evaluated using the high-resolution North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) climate model data. The design storms (6h 100y) were calculated using the best fitted probability distribution among twenty-seven distributions for the historic and future NARCCAP climate model projection. North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) data were used to assess the performance of NARCCAP data. The projected design storms were implemented in an existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Hydrologic Engineering Center Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC-HMS) model developed by Clark County Regional Flood Control District (CCRFCD), Las Vegas. The simulation results showed an increase in the design storms which exceeded the capacity of existing stormwater infrastructure.


Las Vegas Team Assesses Climate Data

Las Vegas Develops a Scope of Work for its Drought Vulnerability Assessment

All updates for this project

Project Team

The Community Lead


Marco Velotta is a City Planner for Las Vegas. As such, he helps plan and implement the city’s Sustainability Initiative for the mayor, city council, city manager, and chief sustainability officer. Marco works on all aspects of sustainability, ranging from city operations to the community and region, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling, transportation and overall community quality of life.

The Scientific Liaison

2015-09-10-1 - Ajay Kalra - Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Ajay Kalra Earned his PhD at University of Las Vegas Nevada, and is currently a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Southern Illinois University. His research interests include hydro-climatology, urban sustainability, water resources management, drought frequency, and probabilistic forecasting & downscaling.


Las Vegas Scope of Work Download