LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — About one of every five households in Southern Nevada could get a rude awakening if they don’t cut their water usage.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) will get the power to limit residential water use to 160,000 gallons per year under Assembly Bill 220 (AB220). And it’s very close to becoming law.
The bill passed on a 30-12 Assembly vote on Monday, and now just needs approval in the Senate before moving to Gov. Joe Lombardo’s desk for a signature.
For 80% of residential customers, it’s not a problem. In 2018, the Las Vegas Valley Water District said the average home uses just over 100,000 gallons a year — no problem in four out of every five homes. But the other 20% of households could see the water shortage hit home in a very real way.
When the bill was introduced in late February, little attention was paid to provisions of the bill giving SNWA the power to cut off water to homes under extreme conditions. The conditions that would trigger SNWA’s power are already here, and they have been since August 2021.
Maybe 20% of the Las Vegas population just doesn’t realize they are water hogs, or maybe they think they can just keep using as much as they want as long as they pay higher bills. Maybe they are living in denial, and climate change is a punchline in the jokes they tell. Maybe they think another snowy winter is guaranteed. Maybe they are just planning to let their yard die. So far, the 20% who would be affected haven’t said much at all as AB220 moves through the Nevada Legislature.
The only comments have come from people who point out that some households have a lot more people than others.
Instead, the debate has centered on requirements to connect many homes currently using septic tanks to a municipal sewer system. A vocal minority has captured the attention of their representatives in Carson City, and AB220 now says 85% of the cost for that connection will be covered — thousands of dollars more than when it was 50%. Lawmakers have vowed to work toward paying 100% of the cost, but they’re not there yet.
As the Assembly cast the vote to send AB220 to the Senate, the sewer connections were still the primary concern.
The bill was just one of 33 bills approved on Monday as the Legislature nears a Tuesday night deadline to vote on bills that came out of committees in the Assembly and Senate. Here are a few highlights of other bills that passed:
RENT RULES: Two bills won approval in the Assembly as lawmakers moved to eliminate extra charges billed to tenants of rental properties. AB218 and AB298 addressed different kinds of fees that have popped up. AB218 (passed 28-14) requires landlords to facilitate rent payments through a website or online portal, but prohibits passing along the cost to tenants through an additional fee. The bill establishes deceptive trade practices. AB298 (passed 36-6) requires a clear disclosure of all fees tenants must pay, and prohibits landlords from creating fees not already disclosed to the tenant. The bill would also require landlords to refund application fees to prospective tenants who are rejected, along with other provisions surrounding minors.
NORTH LAS VEGAS: A passionate 12-minute speech by Democratic Senator Pat Spearman wasn’t needed to pass Senate Bill 184. Spearman’s fellow Democrats already support the bill (passed 13-8 along Senate party lines), which she sponsored to get North Las Vegas to make a number of changes in city government. The person she needs to convince is Gov. Joe Lombardo, who has already said he won’t sign SB184. Spearman, who called it a “matter of democracy” previously, now describes her legislation as a civil rights bill.
MARIJUANA RESOLUTION: Assembly Joint Resolution 8 (AJR8) passed on a 37-5 vote, sending the matter to the Senate. The resolution supports removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I controlled substances at the federal level. Because marijuana is still a controlled substance, businesses that operate legally in Nevada are forced to deal in cash to avoid federal banking law violations. That leads to dangerous situations for employees.