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Stricter valley water rules, higher fees proposed by water agency

Updated August 5, 2022 - 7:28 am

With the largest reduction ever in Lake Mead water use on the horizon, the agency that governs the Las Vegas water supply is proposing stricter water use rules and possible higher charges for the valley’s biggest water users.

It also will propose the first reductions in water use by golf courses in nearly 20 years.

The Las Vegas Valley Water District is mailing a flyer to every user and posting it on social media about three proposals that would prohibit outdoor man-made water features in the valley. Existing water features would not be affected.

Among the proposals:

■ Future water features would be banned across the district’s jurisdiction.

■ All golf courses that use Colorado River water would see their allowed water budget fall from 6.3 acre-feet of irrigated acre to 4 acre-feet.

■ The water rate structure would be revised to equalize fees and to charge $9 per 1,000 gallons consumed for users who exceed a threshold that varies per season. The proposed residential water rate rules can be seen here.

“About 10 percent of the top water users use about 30 percent of all the residential water,” water district spokesman Bronson Mack said. “The goal is to drive that down and have the community pay attention to their water use.”

The board of directors is likely to consider the changes in October, Mack said.

The ban on water features probably would be immediate, and a new water rate structure would start Jan. 1 . The reduced golf course levels would start Jan. 1, 2024.

“The golf course water budgets were developed in 2003 or 2004,” Mack said. “Many of the golf courses have reduced their grass and are close to the 4 acre-feet per acre. Some will have to make reductions.”

Henderson, North Las Vegas and Boulder City water users would not be affected, but their water governing bodies could enact changes.

Feds demanding use reductions

Colorado River water users are working to come up with a plan by the middle of August to cut 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of water use at the request of the Bureau of Reclamation. If the multiple entities that use water across seven states and Mexico cannot come up with the requested reductions, the federal government has said it will mandate cutbacks.

In the flyer, the water district said, “Local water agencies will also be considering water rate actions in response to these unprecedented conditions — including actions targeting our largest water users.”

Many Strip resorts, including Bellagio and Wynn, use water from private wells for their fountains and aren’t under the jurisdiction of the water authority or the water district.

Any similar rules changes or increased water charges would have to be proposed by water agencies that cover Boulder City, Henderson and North Las Vegas.

The valley receives about 90 percent of its water from Lake Mead. The other 10 percent comes from groundwater.

Lake Mead has declined about 25 feet this year, including 7 feet during May. The water level as of 4 p.m. Thursday was 1,040.89 feet above sea level. If the lake would drop to 895 feet, known as dead pool, water could not be sent downstream from Hoover Dam to Arizona or California. Electrical power production would also stop. The SNWA says it could pump water down to about 875 feet because of $1.3 billion invested in a low-level pumping station and third straw.

Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Marv_in_Vegas on Twitter.

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