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🚰 "Grass In Vegas Won't Stay in Vegas"


Photo by Sung Shin / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Travis Loop
Guest: Bronson Mack | Public Outreach Manager | Southern Nevada Water Authority
Category: 🚰 Utility

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:09] “Here in Southern Nevada the Colorado River provides 90% of our water supply and we access that water directly from Lake Mead. We have the smallest slice of the Colorado River pie, […] as there are seven states as well as the country of Mexico that all share the Colorado River. So for us here in Southern Nevada, we get access to 300,000 acre feet of water. It is equal to about 1.8% of all of the water allocation between those seven states and the country of Mexico. So it's a very small amount of water that we get to support a population of 2.3 million people. Now we do some very unique things with that water to help extend that water supply. For instance, all of our indoor water use here in Southern Nevada, anything that goes down the drain that you use indoors, it all gets reclaimed, treated to near drinking water standards and then we safely return that water back to Lake Mead. And for every gallon that we can put back into Lake Mead, we can take another gallon out and bring it into the valley as treated drinking water.”

[3:38] “We fully expect that the federal government is going to declare a water shortage on the Colorado River this year. We expect that shortage declaration to occur in August, and then it will ultimately be implemented next year in 2022. What that means here for us in Southern Nevada is that we're going to have about 21,000 acre feet less water available to us. So our 300,000 acre foot allocation will get temporarily cut to 279,000 acre feet. Last year [the] water consumption was about 250,000 acre feet. So we've got a little bit of headroom here but again, it's just a reaffirmation for us as to why we need to continue to advance our water conservation efforts and help this community to continue to reduce its water use.”

[4:45] “We actually maintain a lot of communication with the customers and with the public, helping them to understand that they really play a key role in the future water sustainability of our community. […] We have invested $1.4 billion in new infrastructure out in Lake Mead […], locally funded. So our community has known now for at least the past 20 years that […] the drought is serious. […] They play a key role in helping ensure that we have a sustainable water supply and that we're conserving everything that we can. On top of that, […] we've got very robust conservation measures.”

[7:18] “One thing to keep in mind when you think about Southern Nevada and you think about Las Vegas is that we are a relatively young city. […] Las Vegas provides a lot of opportunity for people, while […] it really was […] developed as being […] an oasis in the desert. So early on, we saw a lot of grass installed in this valley. In fact, every single home in Southern Nevada installed prior to 2003 had grass, not only in the front yard, but also in the backyard. […] We also see a lot of grass installed in our commercial development. These are business parks, shopping centers, grocery stores, in the medians of our roadways, all of that used to be grass. Now, grass is obviously a big water user, a bit of a water hog. In fact, it takes about 73 gallons of water every single year per square foot of grass in order to keep it alive here in the Mojave.”

[9:33] “We know that there are a lot of other opportunities and a lot of other options that are more water efficient than grass. So the Southern Nevada Water Authority in the early 2000s implemented the Water Smart Landscape Program. And that program pays a cash incentive to property owners to replace that grass with water efficient or water smart landscaping. We're talking about going from spray irrigation that puts out gallons per minute to going to drip irrigation that puts out gallons per hour. [This can lead to a] 55 gallon saving per square foot per year, [which] is a huge water impact for us.”

[12:24] “We have about 5,000 acres of this non functional decorative grass throughout the Las Vegas Valley. Now of that 5,000 acres about 1,000 resides in the single family residential sector. […] That's 4,000 acres of non functional grass that is at the shopping center, at the ice cream shop, that is at the dentist office that is in the medians and along our streets that nobody is using. And that 4,000 acres of non functional turf uses approximately 10% of our total water supply. Now the Las Vegas Strip as a whole consumes only about 4% of our total water supply.”

[24:00] “Removing grass that is in the medians, or the roundabouts or lining our streets, or that's at the grocery store, […] getting rid of that grass, replacing that with something that is more water efficient [is key]. […] It doesn't affect our quality of life. It doesn't have a major impact on anybody to make that kind of a switch to be more water efficient. The impact obviously, is a benefit on the back end here, where you get additional water savings and that's just more water for the future.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 28 min | 🗓️ 06/28/2021
✅ Time saved: 26 min

Additional Links:
Springs Preserve, Las Vegas