Las Vegas Strip Fountains Could Be Banned Under New Proposal

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Las Vegas Strip Fountains Could Be Banned Under New Proposal

The government body overseeing Las Vegas’ water supply has announced that it’s “in the process of considering” a ban on all new man-made fountains and lakes on the Las Vegas Strip and everywhere else in the region. The ban, if voted through by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) board, could take effect as early as October 2022.

Bellagio Fountains
Bellagio Fountains
The Bellagio fountains entertain millions of Las Vegas Strip visitors per year for free. They draw from a surrounding lake that holds 22 million gallons of water. Most of that water comes from the resort’s private wells. However, 12 million gallons evaporates every year, which is a concern to water conservationists. (Image: elitetravel.com)

The SNWA said its board will vote on its fountain ban and other proposals whenever the current public comment period is over.

Its other proposals include slashing water allocations for Las Vegas golf courses by a third starting in 2024. Golf courses are currently limited to 6.3 acre-feet of water per irrigated acre annually. The new proposal would reduce that allocation to 4-acre feet. An acre-foot of water is 325,900 gallons, or enough to supply two families of four for a year.

All existing water features would be grandfathered in through the proposal. This means the Bellagio fountains are safe from the ban. Any new indoor water features on the Strip would also be allowed under the proposal.

In addition, water features at the Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas have an added layer of immunity from future water bans. They draw part of their water supply from groundwater pumped from their own wells. This water is not regulated by the SNWA or its local member agency, the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD).

Consequences for Top Water Users

A flyer distributed recently by the SNWA threatened to target Las Vegas’ largest water users with “water rate actions in response to unprecedented conditions.” Excessive use charges could be levied as early as January 2023.

The LVVWD’s Top 10 commercial water users in 2021 were:

  1. The Venetian
  2. Mandalay Bay
  3. Caesars Palace
  4. Wynn Las Vegas
  5. Angel Park Golf Club
  6. Red Rock Golf Club
  7. MGM Grand
  8. Southern Highlands Golf Club
  9. The Cosmopolitan
  10. Summerlin Council

The Bellagio squeaked in at No. 11.

Restrictions Follow Fed-Ordered Cuts

The proposed restrictions follow the US Bureau of Reclamation’s recent announcement that Nevada’s water allocation from the Colorado River — at 300,000 acre-feet is the smallest of all seven states that use it — will be cut by 8% next year. That would mean an allocation of 276,000-acre feet of water in 2023.

The good news is that, in 2021, Nevada only used 242,000-acre feet. Southern Nevada’s water usage declined 26% between 2002 and 2021, according to the LVVWD, despite 750,000 new residents and nearly 40 million annual visitors.

Nevertheless, Nevada has pledged to reduce its take by 25,000 acre feet next year.

Three years of intense drought and two decades of long-term drought have severely reduced the water supply from the Colorado River, which is distributed via Lake Mead to 40 million people in the West and supports $1.4 trillion in annual economic activity.

Currently, Southern Nevada receives 90% of its water from Lake Mead, which is now only 27% full. The other 10% comes from groundwater.

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