Nevada businesses seek solutions at drought forum

Private-sector representatives discussed ways that Nevada‘€™s four-year drought has affected their business operations at a Nevada drought forum Friday.

The forum at the Sawyer Building highlighted measures that some of the industries have taken to conserve water and some of the challenges they have faced during the state‘s drought.

"We can‘€™t make it rain,"€ said Leo Druzdoff, chairman of the forum and director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources "€œBut what we can do is that we can be better prepared. I think it‘€™s clear that no one is sitting on their hands. We want to build on towards the summit."

Gov. Brian Sandoval in April formed the forum, which is conducting workshops leading toward a drought summit in September.

The gaming industry highlighted several "€œinnovative practices"€ it has put into place to conserve water.

From water recycling plants under casinos to installing low-flow fixtures inside hotel rooms, Southern Nevada‘€™s gaming industry, which uses less than 3 percent of the region‘s water resources, is looking at ways to be proactive about water consumption, said Erin McMullen, a lobbyist for the Nevada Resort Association.

Chris Brophy, MGM Resorts International‘s vice president of corporate sustainability division, said taking these types of measures have conserved 2 billion gallons of water since 2008.

"We take a very active approach,"€ Brophy said. "€œWe are able to create an illusion of lushness but we‘€™re doing it in a smarter way."

The master-planned community of Summerlin in the western Las Vegas Valley is one example of a community that has taken the drought seriously, said Tom Warden, senior vice president of Summerlin, which is developed by the Howard Hughes Corp.

He said his agency was already invested in water conservation but the severe drought has added an extra focus on community design, such as adding desert landscaping instead of turf.

Some attendees questioned the lack of representation on the forum.

Druzdoff acknowledged the lack of representation on this forum but said the August forum will take the same approach as Friday‘s meeting and will include water users, the agriculture sector and nongovernmental organizations.

Information addressed at the workshops will be reviewed at the Nevada Drought Summit on Sept. 21-23.

Contact Michelle Iracheta at miracheta@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5205. Follow @cephira on Twitter.

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