The Las Vegas Valley and Drought

Posted on — By Dylan Cabico

Las Vegas is definitely a fantastic place to live. I move a lot back and forth between here and California so there isn’t much difference in weather. Hot to warm summers and cold cold winters. Unfortunately, they do share one common thing: drought. Las Vegas’ origins were that settlers found a spring in the desert and decided to build there. Once the spring dried up, the alternative source for water became the Colorado River. According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), “the Colorado River system is facing the worst drought on record. The water level of Lake Mead, which serves as one of the primary water storage reservoirs, has dropped more than 130 feet since January 2000.”

Las Vegas Golf Course

It’s hard to justify “…one of 61 iridescently green golf courses scattered across the sprawl in a region that gets 10.7 centimeters of rain annually,” (Thompson 42). The demand for more resources that also include water in a rapidly growing urban sprawl eventually take its toll on the city. “Every house that national builder KB Homes erected in development is part of the SNWA’s voluntary Water Smart program” according to Thompson.


A home on average would use 435,320 liters of water annually which is nearly half of what older Las Vegas homes use. Las Vegas will not be stagnant and will adapt.


If no other sources of water can be found “… it (Water Authority) has also quietly cultivated an old-fashioned alternative: efficiency” (Thompson 42). Las Vegas began LEED-certified construction and is now embracing it to become a more sustainable city. Oddly enough, as Las Vegas becomes more sustainable, the demand for more housing and buildings increase. Creating an odd pairing.

Image result for LEED Certified badge

Is Las Vegas a sustainable city with their LEED-certified buildings in spite of their massive supply of development? In the end, it’s up to the citizens as well to help do their part in saving water. It would be easy to assume that The Strip is a water hog. To my surprise it was actually the single family residences that “…consume about 40 percent, and 70 percent of that is used outside” (Thompson 46). The SNWA constantly reminds us of tips to properly hand water during this drought. In my opinion, Las Vegas is headed into the right direction; albeit, a little late to the party.