Truth on Tap:
Water Infrastructure & Conservation in Vegas
Yes, we have water.
A global leader in water conservation
Water conservation is a cost-effective resource that helps reduce current and future demand for water. Like water reuse and recycling, water conservation helps stretch our community’s available water supplies, especially during drought, by freeing up water that is used inefficiently or wasted.
Unlike water used indoors, water used outdoors for irrigation and cooling cannot be captured, treated or used again. This is why the SNWA focuses largely on outdoor water conservation and education with programs designed to reduce our community’s water use.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Las Vegas Water District are inaugurated into the Leading Utilities of the World, a global network of the world’s most innovative water utilities and agencies. Both organizations were recognized for innovation, advances, and solutions to water challenges. The Leading Utilities of the World is a global network of the world’s most successful and innovative water and wastewater utilities. Membership is the gold standard of utility performance.
Our community has blazed the trail for urban conservation both nationally and internationally by reducing our consumptive use from the river while simultaneously adding more people to our valley.
-John Enstminger, General Manager at Southern Nevada Water Authority
How can we continue to grow with limited water?
Thanks to conservation, even as we have increased population, we decreased our overall water use.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority has implemented one of the most comprehensive water conservation plans in the nation, helping the community reduce its per capita water use by 47% between 2002 and 2020, even as the population increased by more than 780,000 residents during that time.
A scoring framework is underway to equip local leaders to assess the impact of a new business to the region based on their water use and overall community benefit. This tool will help companies to know upfront if they are a good fit for our region and resources.
Why is recycled water such a big deal?
Southern Nevada is one of the few places on the planet that recycles all indoor water on a community-wide scale.
Approximately 40 percent of the water in the Water Authority’s service area is used indoors. Of that, about 99 percent is recycled, either for direct or indirect use.
Direct reuse involves capturing, treating and reusing highly-treated wastewater flows to irrigate parks, golf courses, and other uses. Indirect reuse consists of recycling water for return-flow credits.
What are return flow credits?
We earn return-flow credits as we return treated and recycled water to its source, Lake Mead.
Recycling is great, especially for a limited natural resource like water. But the game changer for the region is in the return-flow credits we earn for returning the recycled water to its source, Lake Mead.
How does it work?
When you take a shower or wash your laundry, the unused water flows into the sewer system. This sewer water travels to a wastewater treatment facility, where it is treated.
The highly-treated wastewater is returned to the Colorado River via the Las Vegas Wash, which flows into Lake Mead. The water returned to the lake earns us return-flow credits.
This allows us to take additional water at the same rate at which we replace it, giving a net-zero effect and stretching our water supply.
Water Security in Southern Nevada
For more than 20 years, the Southern Nevada Water Authority has been taking action to respond to the drought and prepare for potential water cuts.
From the development of new facilities such as the low lake level pumping station and third drinking water intake, to water banking and system conservation initiatives, these efforts have reduced the potential for customer impacts. One of the SNWA’s largest efforts is implementing aggressive conservation initiatives to reduce our community water use.
What’s that about the Third Straw and Deadpool?
Even if Lake Mead drops below the minimum elevation to release water downstream, the Greater Vegas Region will still be water secure due to our third intake, a deep water pumping station at the bottom of Lake Mead. In addition to this third intake or”straw,” our aggressive water recapture and treatment efforts allow us to safely return water to Lake Mead, and use it again.
What I would tell the residents of Southern Nevada is you live in the most water-secure city in the desert Southwest. We have invested $1.5 billion in the third intake and the low lake level pumping station at Lake Mead to ensure that we can access water supplies for the citizens of Southern Nevada, even in a condition where the federal government can't release water through Hoover Dam downstream to Arizona, California, and Mexico.
–John Entsminger, General Manager at Southern Nevada Water Authority
View the full article here.
One unified, regional voice for water
Southern Nevada Water Authority
The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is a not-for-profit, regional water agency that was formed to address southern Nevada’s unique water needs on a regional basis. SNWA is responsible for treating and delivering high-quality water, operating and managing regional water facilities, and implementing comprehensive water conservation programs. The wholesale water agency also maintains a 50-year water resource plan to ensure a secure water supply for southern Nevada over the next half-century.
Operating Budget: $609.3 million (FY22-23)
Mission: Provide world-class water service in a sustainable, adaptive, and responsible manner to our customers through reliable, cost-effective systems.
Services Provided: Treatment and delivery of wholesale water, regional water supply planning and management, water quality testing and compliance, and regional water conservation programs
Member Agencies: SNWA member agencies include the Big Bend Water District in Laughlin; the cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, and Boulder City; the Clark County Water Reclamation District; and the Las Vegas Valley Water District. Together, these seven agencies provide water and wastewater services to southern Nevada’s over two million residents and more than 40 million annual visitors.
Resources to Learn More
Protecting Southern Nevada's Water Supply
In a guest column, the SNWA highlights the investments its made in water resource planning, conservation, and infrastructure to help diversify and expand our local economy while using less water.