• Red Rocks with water in front of them in the desert.
  • Clouds behind Joshua Tree and bushes.
  • Desert flowers blooming in bushes in front of mountains in the desert.
  • Setting sun reflecting of clouds of orange and blue behind a joshua tree.
  • Hoover Dam intake towers with water behind the dam showing that it is not full.


A Study of Climate Change Impacts on Water Quality and Internal Nutrient Recycling in Lake Mead, Arizona-Nevada

Science Need(s)

Critical Management Question 1: Water Management and Climate Change
How are climate change, water management, and their interaction affecting the physical processes that support springs, aquatic and riparian habitats, species, and human cultures? What are viable management options to mitigate these effects and support ecosystem functions? How can climate change, hydrological, ecological, and/or biological models be used to better understand the potential future effects of climate change, inform adaptive management and development of beneficial management practices, and create related decision support tools?

Grantee: Southern Nevada Water Authority
Principle Investigators: Todd Tietjen
Cooperative Agreement:  $ 170,560 in non-Federal funds and $149,961 in Federal funds provided by Bureau of Reclamation
Project Duration: 2013-2015
Project Goal(s)
The goal of this proposed project is to assess the potential for changes in water quality and trophic status of Lake Mead due to increased internal nutrient recycling that may result from warmer water temperatures and lower dissolved oxygen concentrations induced by climate change. Specifically this project will address:
1. The potential for warmer climatic conditions to lead to increased internal nutrient recycling due to lower dissolved oxygen concentrations in Lake Mead.
2. The effect of increased internal nutrient recycling on general water quality and trophic status of Lake Mead.
3. The effect of increased internal nutrient recycling on the potential for large algal blooms, which may reduce water transparency and lead to a general degradation in recreational uses in the lake.
4. The potential for increased internal nutrient recycling and productivity to lead to further decreases in dissolved oxygen concentrations and additional nutrient release through “feed-back” mechanisms.

Brief Project Description

Southern Nevada Water Authority will add new modeling and analytical capabilities to tools developed as part of a previous WaterSMART Climate Analysis Tools Grant that assessed impacts of climate change on water quality and sediment transport in Lake Mead. Project results are intended to increase an understanding of how water quality characteristics and nutrient levels in Lake Mead may be affected by climate change

Project Location

Lake Mead, Arizona-Nevada

Project Tasks

  1. Literature search on sediment nutrient fluxes
  2. Collection and analysis of in-reservoir data
  3. Implement sediment nutrient fluxes
  4. Lake Mead modeling with internal nutrient recycling and climate change
  5. Project report
  6. Project presentations/meetings

Project Deliverables

  1. Project report
  2. Improved Lake Mead ELCOM/CAEDYM model

Opportunities to learn more

Documents for downloading

Project Proposal