A surge in water use on Sundays has prompted a reminder from the Southern Nevada Water Authority: Give it a rest, people.
The authority and it’s member utilities banned Sunday sprinkler use in 2016, but a recent analysis indicated that thousands of Las Vegas Valley Water District customers appear to be ignoring the prohibition.
“We’ve seen an uptick in water use,” said Bronson Mack, spokesman for both the district and the authority. “We just want to make sure the community understands how important conservation is.”
The state’s largest water utility recently combed through metering data from Sunday, July 22, and discovered hour-long spikes in water use at about 35,000 of the 393,000 locations served by the district.
“That’s a little concerning to us,” Mack said.
Though officials don’t know for sure if all those customers were violating the Sunday watering restrictions, Mack said such spikes certainly suggest illicit irrigation.
Those specific addresses will be receiving targeted reminders about the rules, but the authority thought a valleywide refresher was also in order.
Lawns not endangered
“Despite the extreme temperatures, established lawns can endure one day without irrigation,” said water authority general manager John Entsminger in a written statement. “We encourage residents and businesses to follow the mandatory watering restrictions and adjust their irrigation clocks to skip watering on Sunday.”
Customers found in violation of the watering restrictions generally receive a warning first, followed by fines based on the size of the meter serving their property.
Mack said the water district’s team of about 30 meter readers is responsible for investigating reports of wasteful watering. Already this year, the district has conducted 4,170 water-waste investigations and issued 2,017 violation warnings, mostly for running sprinklers on the wrong days or allowing water to flow off of the property.
Mack said 274 fines totalling $31,680 have been issued to date in 2018.
Sundays used to be an optional day under the seasonal watering restrictions the authority adopted in 2003 in response to ongoing drought on the Colorado River, which supplies 90 percent of the valley’s drinking water.
Those measures have led to a dramatic reduction in water use, but the authority recently began pushing harder on conservation after seeing the community’s overall consumption rise by about 10 percent since 2015.
Ban became mandatory last year
Authority board members approved the Sunday sprinkler ban two years ago in hopes of reducing summertime water use by as much as 900 million gallons — enough to supply more than 5,500 average valley homes for a year. The day off was voluntary at first but became mandatory in 2017.
Sprinkler watering was already prohibited on Sundays in spring and fall, when such irrigation is limited to three assigned days per week, and in winter, when it is restricted to a single assigned day per week.
The ban does not apply to drip irrigation systems, which can still be operated any day in summer.
To limit water loss to evaporation, the summer watering restrictions, in effect through Aug. 31, also prohibit landscape irrigation between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Watching for waste
Las Vegas Valley Water District customers caught wasting water generally receive a notice giving them two weeks to correct the problem or lodge an appeal. After that, a fine can be assessed — and added to a customer’s monthly bill — based on the size of the water meter serving the property.
For the typical residential customer, the fine starts at $80 and doubles each time the same issue is found within an 18-month period.
The maximum fine for the average home is $1,280 for a fifth consecutive violation, but water district spokesman Bronson Mack said it almost never comes to that. Most customers correct the issue immediately and avoid the fine, he said.
Water-waste reports can be submitted online at lvvwd.com or by calling 702-258-SAVE.
Every report is investigated, even on Sundays, so Mack said it’s important for all water-waste tips to include such detailed information as the address or location, the type of waste observed and the day and time of the violation.