Growth of the Las Vegas Strip threatened by new rules
Las Vegas is a technological marvel.
Forget the fact that the Sin City is in the middle of a vast desert, the grand architecture, world-class amenities and party atmosphere of Las Vegas is copied from other places like Dubai and Macau.
The location of the city gives it a more mythical status, the fact is that it takes a lot of work to bring water to the nearly 3 million people who call the Las Vegas Valley home and the millions and millions of people who visit the city every year.
Nevada (along with California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Colorado) draws water from the Colorado River, which draws water from the snow caps of the Rocky Mountains.
Las Vegas in particular experienced explosive growth at the same time snowpack in the Rockies drops to emergency levels.
This development forces the authorities to intervene with new proposals that could affect the use of water in the city.
New rules for the Strip
The Las Vegas Water District is proposing new rules designed to limit water use in the Valley.
A proposal would prevent new resort hotels from including water features, like fountains, in their designs. The other two proposals would impose a $9 fee for every 1,000 gallons of use above the seasonal water limit for single-family homes and cut water budgets for golf courses by one-third.
The proposals will be voted on by the water district board once the public comment period has ended.
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Southern Nevada gets about 90% of its water from the Colorado River, and last week the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation announcement that Nevada will have to reduce its water consumption from the Colorado River by 8% in 2023.
Nevada uses the least amount of water of the seven states that draw from it.
Part of the reason for the low totals in the state is its water conservation and recycling policies.
About 40% of the water in the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s service area is used indoors, such as in hotel-casinos and their fountains. Of this amount, approximately 99% is recycled.
Nevada says nearly 100% of water used indoors, including in Vegas, is captured and reclaimed by the state’s wastewater system where it is treated to clean water standards.
Vegas Thirst for Water
Despite conservation efforts, Las Vegas’ need for water in the middle of the desert remains a problem at a time when water levels in the area are so low.
“This is a huge political discussion, but we’re going to need more water,” said Alan Feldman, a prominent member of UNLVs International Gaming Institute, during a presentation in Orleans, the Las Vegas Sun reported. “I think at some point the federal government will have to step in and undo some of the debate that’s going on at the state and regional levels.”
The Colorado River empties into Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the 726-foot-tall Hoover Dam about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The lake has fallen to record lows in recent years as climate change has altered rainfall patterns in the mountains.
Feldman thinks there is a solution but doesn’t think the city or even the state can handle the problem on their own.
“At some point in America’s future we’re going to have to deal with desalination, I don’t see any way around it. This is not something we would want to see from states. We would like the federal government to intervene on this, ”he said.