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Southern Calif. back in drought; southern Nev. is leader in water conservation

LAS VEGAS - As temperatures start to drop in southern Nevada, United States drought monitors continue to declare that nearly half of the state of California is in a drought, and it could eventually affect Nevada.

All of southern California is said to be back in a drought, just months after the state emerged from that category.

"It's going to take people altering their behavior in order to use water more wisely," said Mike Markus, Orange County Water District General Manager.

Members of the California Water Resources Control Board delayed a decision Tuesday about whether to bring back what had been temporary water bans from California's drought, spanning 2013 to 2017.

"We've done a pretty good job of conserving water inside of the household; we got low flush toilets, low shower heads and where we haven't done a very good job is utilizing water on the outside of the house," Markus said.

However, in Nevada, the state has used 28 percent less water last year than when the drought started in the early 2000s.  Southern Nevada is said to be a growing leader in water conservation.

Since the early 2000's the Colorado River has experienced drought.

"We've seen less snowpack in the Colorado Rockies that's resulted in less runoff into the river reducing the amount of water in that river flowing into Lake Powell then ultimately into Lake Mead," said Bronson Mack, SNWA outreach manager. 

For every gallon put back into Lake Mead, Nevada can also take another gallon out and bring it to the valley as treatable drinking water.

"It's the water that we use outdoors that we only get to use once and that's why we really focus a lot of our conservation activities on our outdoor water use so that residents can abide by the watering restrictions," Mack said.

Nevertheless, one of the things that makes southern Nevada unique when it comes to water resource management is that we recycle all the water we use indoors, whether it's in your bathroom, shower, sink or laundry; all of it is reclaimed.  

"It's not surprising if we see other communities also take similar steps to implement more permanent types of watering restrictions to improve their efficiencies as well," Mack said. 

Keeping a community's water conservation ethic top of mind is what southern Nevada strives for, and it's all thanks to the turf program, water smart landscape program, and mandatory watering restrictions.


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