Las Vegas Water Authority Opposes Recycling Water

Friday, April 17, 2009
Bellagio Hote: Las Vegas Needs Extra Water

One would think that in an era of greater demand for shrinking resources, no government agency would oppose a plan to save water. But the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which services Las Vegas and Clark County, is just such an agency.

 
Water from Las Vegas homes is treated and then sent 12 miles by pipeline to Lake Mead. Water from Lake Mead is then pumped back to Las Vegas. Some homeowners, builders and environmentalists have suggested that home water bills could be cut if residents were allowed to recycle their own water from sinks, showers and washing machines into “graywater,” which can be used to water lawns and trees. This is already allowed in rural areas outside Las Vegas.
 
But to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, there’s a catch. Las Vegas is given an annual allotment of 300,000-acre-feet from the Colorado River. The water returned to Lake Mead converts to credits that allow the Water Authority to pump more water from the lake and increase the amount of water available to the city (and its hotels). The Water Authority argues that reduced water bills would lessen the incentive to curb consumption, causing more water pumped and less returning. 
 
Currently, Clark County’s building codes don’t allow household graywater recycling. So graywater proponents supported Assembly Bill AB363, which was drafted by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno and co-sponsored by Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas. The bill “provides for the collection and application of graywater for a single-family residence.”
 
“People paid for that water and I think they should be allowed to do with it what they wish,” said Launce Rake, spokesman for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Advocates also highlight the wastefulness of clean, drinking water being used on lawns and landscaping. Despite the arguments, the graywater bill was not voted out of committee this session.
 
Other desert cities have been more sympathetic to the use of graywater than Las Vegas. In Tucson, Arizona, for example, by next year all new housing developments will be required to be plumbed for graywater use.
-David Wallechinsky, LiAnn Ishizuka
 
Las Vegas Water Board Opposes Home Water Recycling (by Alexandra Berzon, Las Vegas Sun)

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