Lake Mead, Southwest drought. Problem is more than casino fountains


Las Vegas uses far less water than other users of Lower Colorado River water yet gets bashed considerably more because of the gaudiness of casino fountains (which use recycled water.) The problems are region-wide, not just confined to Vegas and Lake Mead. Does Vegas need to ban grass and lawns? Yes, as do many other desert and semi-arid regions in the Lower Colorado too.

Look again at the big bars in the chart above. Have you heard of the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation District? It uses more water than Vegas. Coachella? In addition to some sort of hipster music festival every year, they also use water to farm the desert – more water than Vegas uses to harvest tourist dollars. You’ve of course heard of the Imperial Irrigation District. It uses ten times as much water as Vegas.

I’m not here to defend Las Vegas’s water use. Could they do more to conserve? Absolutely. There’s a serious conversation to be had about that city’s approach to life in the desert. They will have to be to be part of the solution to Lake Mead’s problems. But until the broad societal conversation embraces all the water users, rather than wagging an accusing finger at the Bellagio Fountain, we’re not going to get anywhere in dealing with this problem.

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