Nevada’s harsh weather, low precipitation, and growing population make it difficult to maintain proper water levels. Southern Nevada currently receives 90% of its water supply from Lake Mead, which is fed by the Colorado River. The Colorado River provides water to not only Nevada but California, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Mexico. As mentioned in “Water Shortages and the Colorado River: What Does This Mean?”, the Colorado River is drying up at alarming rates. Lake Mead has seen more than a 130 foot decline in its water level since 2000.
Although water shortages and drought are a harsh reality, Nevada has some of the most advanced wastewater systems in the country. This allows for 99% of all water to be recycled. Recycling water is for indoor water use such as showers, dishwashers, and bathrooms. Recycling water has proven to be a successful water conservation practice but, the majority of Nevada’s water is used outdoors and on large lawns and grassy fields which can not be recycled. It is not uncommon for Las Vegas golf clubs to pay around $1 million per year for water usage!
Aside from recycled water, Nevada is setting a precedent addressing water shortages. Here are three innovative methods Nevada has proposed to increase or maintain water supply:
Make a Deal with California
The state of Nevada is looking to strike a deal with California: Nevada would finance a desalination facility on the Golden Coast in exchange for a portion of California’s share of the Colorado River. This would temporarily eliminate the need to establish a new water source.
Use Sensing Systems and Artificial Intelligence
Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Andrade-Rodriguez, is focusing on the use of sensing systems and artificial intelligence to develop technologies that would help farmers efficiently water crops while minimizing water use. These technologies would not only preserve water, but also save farmers money.
Hold Residents Accountable
The state of Nevada has implemented a variety of water-saving programs such as the Multifamily Property Analysis in which families can receive recommendations to maximize water efficiency, and the Water Upon Request program which encourages restaurants to only serve water when a customer requests. There are a few programs in place, but the state of Nevada is hoping to increase resident’s participation in water conservation efforts by implementing more programs to hold individuals accountable.
Although the state of Nevada is still facing water shortages, there has been improvement. Bronson Mack of Southern Nevada Water Authority noted, “Because the Valley has adopted comprehensive conservation practices, Colorado River water usage has decreased, even as Clark County’s population has grown. Since 2002, the population of Southern Nevada has increased 46% but water use per capita has decreased 38%” (Water 101:Today's Systems Protect Las Vegas' Future).
There is still much effort to be made to address water shortages, but the world should take note of the successful efforts Nevada is putting forth.
Communications/Marketing, Source: University of Nevada. “Assistant Professor Conducts Research on Water Management for Nevada Climate.” The Fallon Post, The Fallon Post, 16 July 2020, www.thefallonpost.org/news/2108,assistant-professor-conducts-research-on-water-management-for-nevada-climate.
“Nevada.” Nevada | Drought.gov, 19 June 2020, www.drought.gov/drought/states/nevada.
“Officials: Nevada Has Reached 'Critical Mass' With Water Supply.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2019-11-20/nevada-has-reached-critical-mass-with-water-supply-official-says.
“Water 101: Today's Systems Protect Las Vegas' Future.” Las Vegas Sun, 25 July 2019, lasvegassun.com/native/southern-nevada-water-authority/2019/jul/25/water-101-todays-systems-protect-las-vegas-future/.