Ongoing drought concerns bring water recycling to forefront in conservation effort

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — For people in Boulder City, Lake Mead is a part of life.

Boulder City resident Donna Baker wakes up to the view every day.

“What happens if the lake goes down even more? I have noticed the lake dropping quite a lot,” she says.

It’s the constant reminder of the ongoing drought.

“I think about California sucking up a lot of the water,” Baker adds.

While Nevada conserves more than neighboring states, what now can be done before the lake drops even more?

Bronson Mack from the Southern Nevada Water Authority, says the idea of turning ocean water into potable drinking water has been brought up with the use of a desalination plant.

“The Southern Nevada Water Authority has had discussions with the country of Mexico about developing a desal plant,” says Mack.

He says piping water inland would drive up the cost for all of us.

“We do pipe and pump fuel and petrol all over the U.S. but you also pay upwards of $3 or $4 a gallon, for water you pay a couple of dollars for thousands of gallons,” adds Mack.

Mack says a desalination plant isn’t cheap to build either and can cost more than a billion dollars.

“Desal is some of the most expensive water you can have in a portfolio, about $2,000 per acre-foot where right now Colorado River water is $300 per acre-foot.”

There are a number of desalination plants in California, but it helps communities there.

He says another idea is more realistic.

“We are partnering Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to help Los Angeles build a large-scale water recycling program much like we have here in Southern Nevada, that will help increase the amount of water Southern Nevada will be able to get from Lake Mead,” Mack adds.

Southern Nevada is contributing $450M to improve the Los Angeles recycling program.

“Water recycling is really key to total water management going forward,” Mack says.

Upgrading of water plants in California is still five to 10 years away. Right now all indoor water use in Southern Nevada is already recycled and we are leading the way for the idea.

“It is going to be a hazard and an issue for Boulder City if we drop any more water in that lake,” Baker says.

While water continues to drop, residents like Baker hope more water will come to help the problem.

“If that dam doesn’t have water, what is going to become of Boulder City?” Baker asks.

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