Water shortages and drought have been a concern since I moved to Las Vegas in 1988. What I’ve learned in the last 30+ years is that there will always be water. There’s a great page on the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s website on where our water comes from and how it gets to your faucet.
Can There Be A Water Shortage in Vegas?
Whatever the mega-resorts have to do, they will not allow water to affect their occupancy rates. If there wasn’t water, people might stop coming to the desert – and Las Vegas is BIG business. It’s all about the MONEY- not the water. Because of the money, there will always be water. However, water conservation is a huge part of all the mega-resorts.
The Conservation Plan
In Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada Water Authority foresaw that people were moving here in large numbers and created a plan almost 20 years ago. That plan 15 years later has created a city that still thrives using half the water. The plan is still working every day and we don’t even notice it!
How We Conserve
Southern Nevada made conserving water mandatory over 15 years ago. Every house built began to have low-flow faucets and fixtures, energy-efficient appliances and re-circulation systems. Desert landscaping became standard. Water features and grass were removed and replaced with desert landscaping or non-evaporation hardscapes. Conservation has become a lifestyle that has reduced per person usage by over 40% in the last 15 years. Great job Las Vegas! Thankfully, rain and snowfall levels have also been increasing since 2017.
The Springs Preserve
The Springs Preserve opened to the public in 2007. It memorialized the location where Las Vegas got its name- “The Springs” with 170 miles of trails, a train, preserved buildings, learning areas, a museum, and a restaurant. It has become a place to enjoy spending the day with family and friends.
Las Vegas Valley Water District partnered with the Springs Preserve and has contributed by creating walking trails with multiple displays and desert plants. They hold classes on conservation, plants, landscaping, sprinklers and drip lines. The Preserve shows how beautiful a low-watering, water shortage proof, desert landscape can be.
The LVVWD also has a program that provides a rebate to homeowners that remove grass from their yards. The rule of thumb is that if you mow it, it qualifies. The problem with this program is that the water district puts a lien on the property so that the property cannot have grass ever again. We know this and watch for this, however, not every Realtor does. If you are buying a resale home, read the preliminary title report.
Our cities have become a water-conserving team. As you drive around the valley you will notice designs with rock scaping, caged rock features, and metal art. There are large cement turtles and statues that match bridge art. Donkeys, Bighorn Sheep, cactus, birds, and even firefighters. The City of Las Vegas started beautifying the street and freeway systems with no maintenance and no watering hardscapes a few years ago. They are absolutely beautiful!
Water Scaping and Hard Scaping
It was close but the lake and water shows at the Bellagio were saved during conservation planning. Most of the fountains, waterfalls, and ponds around town were drained and re-landscaped to avoid water use because of evaporation. It was sad to see them go.
The Water Conservation Plan has been very successful! I think that it’s great that together we’ve created all this beauty in the desert that isn’t requiring water. I love driving on our roads knowing that artists, designers, and visionaries working together have added so much more to my day than a plant ever could. If you haven’t noticed these great pieces, you will.
Potted plants and gardens are a trend that can save plants’ lives in a few days a year when it freezes. Palm trees tend to be sensitive and need to be watched and possibly wrapped or covered. I read that UC Davis in California recently created a buffalo fescue grass that uses 70% less water than traditional grass. I’m looking forward to seeing that!
Plants watered with drip irrigation systems tend to use less water and the flow can be adjusted for each plant. Many desert plants flower. Most Las Vegas Valley yards are covers with rocks in a rock-scaped design to keep the dust down and moisture in. Besides lower water bills, the other big advantage of desert landscaping is the cost of gardening. We hire people to come to maintain our yard 3-4 times a year instead of monthly since there is no grass to mow.
The Water Police
Because water conservation is so important in Southern Nevada, there is a Report Water Waste Hotline and a Water Patrol to enforce the rules. Every water entity in Southern Nevada has basically the same requirements. I’ll use the Cliff note version of LVVWD’s water waste rules as an example.
Water Waste is Defined As:
- Not watering on your area’s assigned even or odd day watering schedule
- Any LVVWD water that flows or sprays off your property.
- Not fixing a broken watering device for over 48 hours from discovery.
- Watering between 11 AM to 7 PM from May 1 to August 31.
- Wasting water while washing vehicles, sidewalks, driveways, patios, streets or parking lots off
- Operating fountains for commercial use or one with more than 25 surface feet of water at a private residence.
Some watering activities are exempt from water waste restrictions.
- Bubblers and drip irrigation may operate any day of the week but the number of days you water must match the allowed number of days in a week for that time of year
- Hand Watering
- Irrigation system testing
- Watering plants to sell by licensed nursery
- Newly seeded lawns or landscaping are exempt for 30 days
- Watering to abate a health hazard
We have learned through this conservation process that: Just because there are mandatory water conservation rules, it doesn’t mean that we are wanting more or settling for less.