New law allows rain recycling in Nevada

LAS VEGAS - What should happen to rain water once it falls in the Las Vegas valley?  Common practice is for it to flow into Lake Mead, but since Nevada has been in a drought, some communities have clamored for the ability to recycle the rain.

"This fills up and then it wanders around the property," said M.L. Robinson, a professor at UNR.

Robinson, a professor at the UNR Extension near Silverado Ranch, has a hidden garden that is a labratory for getting water from the sky to the lake.

Robinson's lab is an example of what happens when you hold and retain rain water.

"There's no irrigation here," Robinson said.  "These are all going quite well. This is probably the simplest and the way nature does it."

However, for homeowners and farmers, collecting rain water has always been illegal.  Rural communities, in particular, have done it anyway -- but secretly.  Now, all of that is changing.

At the end of June, Governor Sandoval signed a law allowing people to collect and recycle rain water.

"It's a struggle because a lot of those laws are very old,"  Robinson said. "I think it's very progressive for us to do that."

Nevada Water Resources officials supported the law. Other states in the Southwest also allow rain water collection.

"Anytime you can reuse more than once, any type of commodity like water, you're adding to the sustainability of the area," said Robinson.

Robinson thinks residential rain collection is more likely in northern Nevada where there is usually more rainfall.


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