Living Green: Local water saving efforts prove effective - 8 News NOW

Living Green: Local water saving efforts prove effective

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LAS VEGAS - Warmer temperatures and shrinking snow packs mean another year with less water for the Colorado River and the seven western states that rely on it. The latest drought report shows southern Nevada still remains in a severe drought. Western Nevada and much of California are exceptionally dry.

“You have to have a strategy to use less. You have to have a strategy to get more,” said Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager John Entsminger.

He says that strategy will help southern Nevada weather the long dry spell for years to come. Entsminger says Nevada residents will have water when they need it thanks to current water conservation efforts.

“Las Vegas is a model for the entire world on what can be accomplished in municipal conservation,” he said.

Entsminger says even with a population growth of 25 percent during the past decade, southern Nevadans managed to reduce their water by one third.

“One of the benefits of living in Las Vegas is our people see that bathtub ring at Lake Mead on a regular basis. They know this is a real situation, and by and large, I think our community is willing to pitch in and help solve the problem,” he said.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has provided financial incentives. The agency has awarded $200 million to homeowners who replaced their water-greedy grass lawns with desert friendly landscape, saving billions of gallons of water a year.

“The biggest waste of water is the grass,” said professional landscaper Mat Baroudi.

Baroudi helps spread the conservation message. He says people do not have to sacrifice a lush, colorful yard to be water smart.

“I don't want to see cactus and palm trees. I like color. I like movement. I like flowers.

When I see someone wasting water, I go knock on the door and say, ‘Hey, you've got a sprinkler that’s busted over here.’ I'm being very proactive, yes,” he said.

Entsminger says proactive programs will keep us afloat. One hundred percent of the valley’s indoor water gets recycled.

The third straw at Lake Mead will be complete late next year. It will help draw water from deeper, cleaner depths of the lake. Officials have also banked water in local aquifers and in neighboring states.

The tier rates valley residents pay on their water bills and the penalties they pay for watering on the wrong days also help. Not all of the options are cheap or popular, but Entsminger says they are necessary.

“I'm a believer that water is a public trust. It is a resource that belongs to the public, and we all have a duty and obligation to use that water wisely,” he said.

Entsminger says conservation efforts have been so successful that if the U.S. Secretary of the Interior officially declared water shortages, Las Vegas would not experience rationing or major cuts for an indefinite amount of time. Residents need to remember, however, the drought is ongoing, and they can't become complacent.

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