Agency says it can supply water if Las Vegas footprint expands

Updated June 16, 2018 - 12:31 am

The Southern Nevada Water Authority says it has more than enough water to supply new homes and businesses that could be built one day on thousands of acres of federal land just outside the Las Vegas Valley.

The challenge will be getting the water there and making sure it is used — and reused — as efficiently as possible, said water authority chief John Entsminger.

The Clark County Commission is set to vote Tuesday on a resolution seeking federal legislation to open almost 39,000 acres of public land for sale to developers.

Most of the land is south of the valley between Sloan and Jean, where county officials envision a large commercial manufacturing and distribution hub along Interstate 15 and others expect new housing tracts to the east of the highway in Hidden Valley.

Entsminger said such development is already baked into the authority’s water resource plan, which lays out where the community’s water supply will come from over the next 50 years. That plan is renewed annually using the same growth projections that underpin the county’s decision to ask Congress for more land.

Preparing to outgrow the valley

Entsminger said the authority has been preparing for large-scale development outside of the valley for more than a decade, dating back to the early 2000s when the county began floating plans to develop an as-yet-unbuilt regional airport on the Ivanpah dry lake bed near Primm.

The community’s wholesale water supplier also has had talks with Henderson about the potential for future development in the Eldorado Valley and with North Las Vegas about the delivery of water to the Apex industrial park.

“We’ve been looking at this at all compass points,” Entsminger said.

In May 2017, the water authority board, which includes three members of the Clark County Commission, made those plans official with the adoption of its first out-of-valley water use policy.

The one-page document calls on far-flung developments to discourage or outright ban things like man-made lakes, water-cooled power plants and decorative turf. Those developments should return their treated wastewater to Lake Mead whenever feasible or reuse enough of it on-site to “displace the need for SNWA water resources,” the policy states.

Entsminger said the policy was not developed in anticipation of the county’s resolution seeking more land for growth, but “we’ve certainly looked at it and are aware of what the county is asking Congress to do.”

At the very least, he said, new developments outside the valley should be expected to consume the same net amount of water as the ones within the valley do.

“But I think our goal is to have them use less,” he said.

‘Not trying to reinvent the wheel’

In the case of the land south of Sloan, Entsminger said water likely will be delivered the usual way — by extending the system of pipes, pumps and reservoirs that currently supplies the southern edge of the valley with Colorado River water pulled from Lake Mead.

Water recycling outside the valley could be accomplished in several ways, including using treated wastewater for landscape irrigation and the cooling systems in buildings or injecting it into the aquifer to be pumped out and used again later.

Such methods are “pretty well established,” Entsminger said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here.”

Once development south of the valley reaches “critical mass,” he said, it might make financial sense to build a second set of pipes to return wastewater to the Las Vegas Valley. Then it can be released back to Lake Mead along with most of the community’s treated effluent to earn so-called “return-flow credits” that allow the authority to draw additional water from the lake.


CLICK TO ENLARGE

Without that recycling arrangement, the Las Vegas Valley would have outgrown its annual supply of Colorado River water decades ago.

Conservationists are already criticizing the county’s expansion plans as a gift to developers who want to replace more pristine desert with urban sprawl.

But at least one urban planning expert said the community will need more room to grow, even if it gets serious about higher-density in-fill development within the valley.

Robert Lang is executive director of the Lincy Institute and Brookings Mountain West at UNLV. He said Las Vegas is “naturally constrained” by mountains, federally owned land and a lack of available water, so it has had to fit more homes into a smaller area. As a result, he said, the valley actually has a much higher population density than true examples of sprawl such as Nashville, Atlanta or Dallas.

“Vegas’ problem is one of urban design, not poor use of physical space,” he said, referring to the need for better transit and more walkable communities.

“You can do a better job in the interior (of the valley), but that’s not going to be all the growth the valley is going to see,” Lang said. “It’s going to require more land.”

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like