River Stakeholders

Colorado River Water Use Highlights:

Southern Nevada's Water Footprint

Southern Nevada, the economic engine of Nevada, is home to a majority of the state's population but uses only a small portion of Nevada's available water.

Southern Nevada Resorts

From the 2023 Annual Report – View Full Report Here ⟶

An unseasonably wet water year combined with lower regional water demands temporarily shored up Lake Mead levels, improving the shortage outlook for Southern Nevada in 2024.

While Southern Nevada remains in a Tier 1 federally declared shortage, our region continues to use less than our Colorado River annual allocation, thanks in large part to community conservation. In 2023, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) introduced even more incentives to its already world- renowned conservation programming in combination with new ordinances to ensure our valley’s current and future sustainability.

Assembly Bill 220, signed into law in June 2023, introduced several groundbreaking initiatives in water management. The legislation prohibits new septic systems in areas served by the Colorado River while also establishing funding and a financial assistance program for current septic system owners interested in connecting to the municipal sewer system. The initiative is projected to capture hundreds of millions of gallons annually for reuse in the Las Vegas Valley.

In addition, the legislation provides the ability to limit water use at single-family homes to approximately half an acre-foot per year in certain emergency federal shortage conditions – placing limitations on the community’s top residential water users – and managed with oversight by the SNWA Board of Directors.

The law also requires new development to install water-efficient irrigation controllers, prohibits grass in new development and requires functional turf to be watered efficiently.

To gauge the water-resource impacts of new industry on our community, the SNWA developed a Water Investment Rating Tool to calculate and evaluate the consumptive water use of companies interested in moving to the region or expanding operations. This first-of-its-kind evaluation tool will help to ensure the water footprint of new business and industrial operations is compatible with our region’s resources while also promoting economic development.

In addition to these regulatory measures, the SNWA introduced its largest incentive to date to encourage existing businesses to replace evaporative coolers, which collectively represent one of Southern Nevada’s biggest water uses, with dry-cooled systems. A new tree canopy cash incentive also was added to the SNWA’s popular Water Smart Landscapes rebate program to encourage residents to include more desert-compatible trees in their landscape conversions to help curb the urban heat island effect.

Participation in existing conservation incentive programs remains strong, particularly in the commercial/municipal sector, as the 2025 deadline nears for the state-legislated removal of non-functional turf. The program is on track to reach its goal of converting approximately 7 million square feet of decorative grass to water-smart landscaping by the end of this year.

This balance of incentive and regulatory programming is already proving an effective tool in regional water management. The Las Vegas Valley Water District, which introduced an excessive use charge at the start of 2023 for properties exceeding seasonal watering thresholds, found customers typically changed their household irrigation habits within one or two cycles of an excessive use violation. At the same time, the Water District enhanced its automated leak notification program, giving enrolled customers immediate text alerts and notifications of spikes in water use to help residents identify and correct a potential leak before experiencing significant water loss, water damage or high-water bills. The SNWA also added educational resources to help homeowners identify and repair leaks, including online tutorials and access to certified Water Smart Plumbers, a new program in which participating businesses receive SNWA training in water- smart best practices.