California can learn from Las Vegas about water reclamation


Southern Nevada cleans 100 million gallons of sewage a day then pumps 90 million gallons a day back into Lake Mead for future use. The rest is used for irrigation and other gray water needs. Yes, what is flushed down the toilet in Las Vegas is turned back into drinking water, over and over again. You may go yuck. However the water is indeed clean, so really, what’s the problem?

This massive cleaning of water means Las Vegas can take way more than its allocated share of Lake Mead water, since it can reuse whatever it pumps in. There are no California cities to my knowledge that reclaim water on this scale. There should be. Water reclamation projects like these in Vegas should be common across the Southwest and California. There is no reason to waste increasing scarce water.

The bulk of the effort starts at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and the appropriately named Sludgemore Avenue. It’s the site of the Flamingo Water Resource Center, a Disneyland-sized facility on the eastern edge of the valley and Nevada’s largest wastewater treatment plant.

There, in a six-hour process involving biology and technology, sewage is purified of pollutants and made ready to be put back into Lake Mead, where it will be stored and pumped back out for final treatment before entering our faucets.

The Clark County Water Reclamation District has an informative narrated tour of the Flamingo Water Resource Center, the biggest in Vegas.

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