Water is a Precious Resource

CSN’s Desert Landscaping to Save Water

By Ramon Nunez

Water conservation efforts in Southern Nevada have mitigated the water drought crisis with some surplus water available although saving water is always top priority.

Corey Enus, public information coordinator for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and Las Vegas Valley Water District, described the causes of the drought as below-average snowmelt and lack of precipitation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains that feeds the Colorado River, which flows into Lake Mead.

According to Enus 90% of the water Nevada receives is from the Colorado River.

The lake is three-trillion gallons below capacity, Enus said. The water has dropped more than 130 feet since January 2000. “We have been in this drought for two decades now with no end in sight,” he adds.

The good news is the Valley has conservation efforts that have paid off. Most are familiar with efforts to desert landscape using minimal water and getting rid of grass, large water features and using potable water for golf courses. Efforts to reduce usage have worked.

Christina O’Connor, environmental science professor at College of Southern Nevada, said, “If you compare other desert cities to Las Vegas you will see many of them have more traditional landscaping to green the environment but that places high demand on water.” What Nevada has done to conserve is good.

Enus said, “Since 2002, Southern Nevada has reduced water consumption from Lake Mead by 30 percent, even as the area’s population increased by more than 600,000 people.”

Of the 300,000 acre-feet that Nevada was allotted in 2018, the community used 244,000 acre-feet, leaving 56,000 acre-feet of water unused. “In 2019 we’re on track to consumptively use 225,000 of our 300,000 acre-feet allotments,” Enus adds.

Even with the surplus, “The drought in the Colorado River basin is serious, though Southern Nevada is well-positioned to meet not only current water demands but also future water demands,” Enus said.

College of Southern Nevada follows water-saving strategies and water restrictions.

According to Paul Minto, director of facilities management at CSN, the campuses have minimal amount of grass so they save water by planting and maintaining desert landscaping. CSN has low-flow faucets in all the restrooms as well as low-gallon usage in all the commodes.

Dr. John Keller, professor of environmental science at CSN, said, “Education is a good starting point to tell the general public about water problems but that’s not going to be enough, especially since water is still pretty cheap right now, which causes people to waste it. We need to increase the price of water so that wasting it will hit people where it hurts: in the wallet.”

Conserving water can be a priority and practiced every day. Even small steps help like turning off the water while brushing teeth or shaving.

Markel Collins, CSN student, said, “I try my best to conserve water by cutting down my showers.”

Although Southern Nevada is set for the future, conserving water is still a top priority.

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