Conserving Nevada’s Most Precious Resource

The Southwest United States is in a severe drought. Lake Mead, which supplies the majority of water to the Las Vegas Valley is at a historically low level. In an effort to conserve water the Southern Nevada Water Authority has targeted irrigation of turf to conserve Nevada’s most precious resource. Two methods of conserving water are reducing the amount of turf allowed for homes and irrigating golf courses with reclaimed water.

Depending on the location of a single-family home here are the residential restrictions on turf:

Clark County and City of Las Vegas:

“No new turf allowed in front yards. Fifty percent of turf in side and rear yards or 100 square feet, whichever is greater, may be grass (max. 5,000 square feet).”

City of Henderson:

“No new turf is allowed in front yards. Turf in side and rear yards may not exceed 50 percent, or 100 square feet, whichever is greater. Turf area dimension may not be less than 10 feet.”

These harsh restrictions on homeowners make people question why there are so many lush golf courses in the Las Vegas Valley. The answer is the courses are irrigated by reclaimed water and not potable (drinking) water. Reclaimed water is wastewater (sewage) that is treated to remove solids and other impurities. This water is never used in homes.

Initially, the idea of using treated sewage water may be repulsive, but reclaimed water meets extremely high water quality standards. Once the water is treated it is safe for human contact, but not for human consumption.

Smart reclaimed water use allows for the continued growth of the Las Vegas Valley. Besides golf courses, other uses of reclaimed water include parks, construction sites, and power plants. As the population in Southern Nevada continues to grow, so does the supply of wastewater. Therefore, wastewater is readily available.

Some advantages of reclaimed water include:

• The use of reclaimed water reinforces the awareness of the drought and the need to conserve water in a desert climate.
• Unlike potable water that has a sliding price scale based on volume used, reclaimed water has flat rate pricing.
• Unused reclaimed water is returned to Lake Mead.
• Reclaimed water is less expensive compared to potable water.

The Las Vegas Valley gets its drinking water from ground supplies and limited credits from the Colorado River. Unfortunately, every gallon of reclaimed water used does not mean an additional gallon can be taken from the Colorado River. There may be advantages to using reclaimed water, but the need to conserve potable water is just as important as ever.

One of the golf courses that irrigates their turf and fill their lakes and streams with reclaimed water is the Chimera Golf Club in Henderson, Nevada. Chimera is proud of their use of reclaimed water and looks forward to conserving Southern Nevada’s most precious resource in the future.

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