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Vegas has water for 1 million more residents, no worries for 20 years

Omigod, casinos on the Strip in Vegas have water fountains, and Vegas is in a desert so it must be a ginormous water pig, right? Wrong. Vegas is allocated a tiny 1.8% of water from the Colorado River and doesn’t use all of it. Southern Nevada done such a superlative job of conserving and reusing water it just sold 150,000 acre feet to parched southern California. It has enough water for one million more residents, and no worries for at least 20 years.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has been hugely proactive in identifying ways to save and reuse water. Huge catchment basins capture rain water, send it to treatment plants to be cleaned, then into Lake Mead to be used. This also applies to all indoor water in Vegas, including toilet water. SNWA has enough water stockpiled for seven years at current usage levels.

Even under the worst case envisioned by the document — a combination of the deepest cuts imaginable on the Colorado River coupled with an unexpectedly large population surge — the authority won’t need to start bring new resources on line for the next 20 years.

That scenario, which Entsminger called the ultimate stress test for the community’s water supply, envisions worsening drought conditions that force an almost 15 percent cut in the valley’s Colorado River allocation at the same time the population is growing at a rate 40 percent higher than the what UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research is projecting.

“We don’t believe this is realistically going to happen,” Entsminger said.

Phoenix and Tucson are equally proactive is cutting consumption and re-using water.

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