Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



U.S. Department of the Interior: Bureau of Reclamation


Lake Mead is a deep, subtropical, moderately productive, desert impoundment with a negative heterograde oxygen profile occurring during; the summer stratification. investigations of the Boulder Basin of Lake Mead by the University of Nevada were initiated in November 1971. The primary objective of the study was to determine what effects industrial and sewage effluent from the Las Vegas metropolitan area, discharged into Las Vegas Bay, have had on the water quality and limnological conditions of Boulder Basin. Data from the 1975-76 period are presented in detail, with earlier data included in the summaries and discussions.

Measurements of water temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH. Alkalinity, nutrient concentrations, phytoplankton numbers, chlorophyll a, primary productivity, zooplankton concentrations, and coliform bacteria were made monthly or biweekly. Success patterns for both phytoplankton and zooplankton are described.

Physical factors affecting the distribution arid deposition of enteric bacteria (including those of special public health importance) in Las Vegas Bay are discussed. The distribution of water arid of enteric bacteria of possible fecal origin into Las Vegas Bay from Las Vegas Wash were determined. The unreliability of thoroughly referenced techniques and methods, generally accepted as standard for enteric bacteria, are treated in detail. Water from Las Vegas Wash forms a density current in Las Vegas Bay. The density current is located on the bottom during isothermal conditions and in the metalimnion during summer stratification.

The metalimnetic oxygen minimum was examined in some detail and found to be caused by biological respiration. Estimations of zooplankton and phytoplankton respiration indicate that they could account for the majority of the oxygen lost in the metalimnion.

Primary production and algal biomass were higher in Las Vegas Bay because of nutrient enrichment from Las Vegas Wash. The inner portion of Las Vegas Bay would be classified as eutrophic and the outer portion of Las Vegas Bay and Boulder Basin as mesotrophic. Nitrogen is likely to be the most limiting nutrient.


Aquatic chemistry; Bacteria; Dissolved oxygen; Eutrophication; Lake Mead (Ariz. and Nev.); Las Vegas Bay (Nev.); Las Vegas Wash (Nev.); Phytoplankton; Pumped storage; Water pollution; Water quality


Biochemistry | Biology | Desert Ecology | Environmental Health | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Monitoring | Environmental Sciences | Fresh Water Studies | Natural Resources and Conservation | Sustainability | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology