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Nevada considers limiting residential water use for single-family homes due to climate change

Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Nevada lawmakers are considering a bill that would give the water agency, which manages the Colorado River supply, the authority to set yearly limits on the amount of water used by single-family homes in the Las Vegas area, citing climate change, drought, and a spike in demand.

Existing laws in the state already prohibit ornamental lawns, recycle water used inside residents, and restrict the size of new swimming pools.

If approved, the Southern Nevada Water Authority could cap single-family homes to approximately 160,000 gallons yearly – roughly 30,000 gallons above the average use.

Bronson Mack, a spokesperson for the water agency, explained that the legislation is meant to reduce water supply for the top 10% of users currently using 40% of the water in the residential sector.

During a two-hour testimony for the bill on Monday, the water agency insisted that the residential limits would not be enforced immediately.

Mack stated that the water agency has not yet determined how to implement or enforce the proposed limits.

Democratic Assemblyman Howard Watts, the bill’s sponsor, stated, “It’s a worst case scenario plan.”

“It makes sure that we prioritize the must-haves for a home. Your drinking water, your basic health and safety needs,” Watts added.

The bill would also allow the water agency to require residents with septic systems to convert to the sewage system – a costly renovation that would force homeowners to reroute their wastewater.

Nevada sources 90% of its water from the Colorado River. Previously, mandatory cuts forced the state to lose approximately 8% of that supply, but the water agency has supplemented the loss by recycling water used indoors and not using the total allocation.

Arizona, California, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado also source water from the 1,400-mile-long Colorado River.

Regarding the proposed residential water limits, Watts stated, “It’s a sign to every other sector across the Colorado River Basin that we’re not going to wait for others.”

“We take the lead and work to reduce our consumptive use of water,” he continued.

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