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As We See It

Looking at Las Vegas’ water situation, then and now

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The “bathtub ring” at Lake Mead is not an encouraging sight.
Photo: Sam Morris

A recent Los Angeles Times article on Las Vegas’ water situation has started lots of conversation locally, making the case that we’re in big trouble. What’s curious, however, is how it compares to a cover story the Weekly did in 2008—and how the situation seems to be about the same ... or even improving:

LA Times: “Las Vegas uses more water per capita than most communities in America—219 gallons of water per person every day—and charges less for it than many communities.”

What we said in 2008: “Currently the per capita water use is 255 gallons.”

Conclusion: We’re using less water—although that 219 figure is still awfully high.

LA Times: “Tim Barnett, a marine physicist at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and coauthor of two reports about dwindling Western water resources … concluded that without massive cutbacks in water use, Lake Mead had a 50 percent chance of deteriorating to ‘dead pool’ by 2036.”

What we said in 2008: “A study earlier this year by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego predicts a 50 percent chance the lake will dry up in 15 years.”

Conclusion: Estimates are pretty much just that.

LA Times: “A rebate program has already ripped out 168 million square feet of grass,” and “70 percent of Las Vegas water goes to lawn, public parks and golf courses.”

What we said in 2008: “The Southern Nevada Water Authority has replaced more than 100 million square feet of turf.”

Conclusion: We’ve managed to get rid of a lot of needless grass in the last six years, but we still have a long way to go.

Tags: Opinion
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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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