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Lack of Rain Isn't the Only Story Behind the West's Brutal Drought

Lack of Rain Isn t the Only Story Behind the West s Brutal Drought WIRED


Lawns are against the law for new homes being built in Las Vegas. This is good, because the third-fastest growing city in America is also one of the most precariously planted in terms of water availability. Lake Mead, 24 miles southeast of the Strip, is a reservoir on the Colorado River and for many years after it was built was the largest body of water west of the Mississippi. But because of the shriveling flow from the Colorado River (see above), Lake Mead has lost 5.6 trillion gallons since 1998. This is serious, but Las Vegas hasn’t been acting like it.

Here is the city’s current strategy for surviving the drought:

A) Cut back water usage at parks and government facilities,

B) Restrict hose tips for car washes,

C) Pipe in water from the far ends of the state, and

D) Dig a pipe into the bottom of Lake Mead, so they can suck out all the water.

Every day, Las Vegas uses 222 gallons of water per person. The city set an optimistic goal of cutting back to 199 gallons per person by 2035, but that’s still over twice as much as the amount of water people currently use in Los Angeles. Their best plan for lowering per-capita water usage by 24 gallons is to get more people to move to Las Vegas, because if more people move to the city, each person’s share of water will be smaller. Which sounds like a piece of prank legislation drafted by Joseph Heller and signed into law by John Kennedy Toole.

Please note that the city’s water saving plans do not significantly limit water used in:

A) Swimming pools,

B) Golf courses,

C) The area’s two water slide parks,

D) The 22-million gallon fountains at the Bellagio.

It’s going to be important to watch how Vegas’ plan works out for them. The city is hungry to grow, but demographically wrangling the drought into submission can only work for so long.

Stashed in: Vegas, Baby!, Water!, Climate Change!

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Sounds like Vegas is covering its eyes and hoping the drought goes away.

Outlawing lawns is at least one positive step.

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