Home Energy conservation Southern Nevada Water Authority conservation efforts highlighted as model of drought response – The Nevada Independent

Southern Nevada Water Authority conservation efforts highlighted as model of drought response – The Nevada Independent


Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) Chief Executive Officer John Entsminger shed light during a Senate hearing on the conservation programs the agency has implemented to reduce water use that could help other western states deal with historic drought.

“I think conservation is key here and plays a big part in the story of what we did in Nevada,” Cortez Masto said.

His comments came during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday on solutions to the raging drought in the western United States.

Entsminger said Nevada has shown that conservation can help preserve remaining water.

“The solution to this problem — and by solution I don’t mean filling the reservoirs but rather avoiding potentially catastrophic conditions — is a degree of demand management previously considered unattainable,” Entsminger said. “Nevada’s efforts are a good example of that.”

Despite a population increase of 800,000 people over the past two decades, the region’s water consumption last year remained 26% lower than it was at the turn of the century, it said. he said, an achievement attributed to “paying customers to replace weed with drip.” irrigated plants, setting mandatory irrigation schedules and strictly enforcing waterways.

SNWA began its conservation efforts in 2002, still the driest year in the recorded history of the Colorado River, the source of water for the southern part of Nevada, when only 25% of normal inflows arrived. This is when the agency launched its Water Smart landscape. program, which pays companies $3 per square foot of grass removed and replaced with drip-irrigated plants and trees, up to 10,000 square feet per year, and $1.50 per square foot per the following.

“We have now extracted enough sod in the Las Vegas Valley to lay an 18-inch-wide piece of sod all the way around the circumference of the globe,” Entsminger said.

SNWA also has a tiered rate structure so that those who use more water pay more for it and the funds go to conservation programs.

Nearly 93% of the West is experiencing drought or abnormally dry conditions, and more than 70% of the western United States is experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton noted. during the hearing, citing the US Drought Monitor.

The drought has wreaked havoc on the Colorado River, which supplies water to southern Nevada — SNWA serves about 2.2 million Nevada residents — as well as six other states and Mexico. The river empties into Lake Mead on the Nevada-Arizona border. The lake is the largest reservoir in the country, but it has reached its lowest level since the 1930s and is only about 28% full.

Touton said the drought will force states to cut between 2 million and 4 million acre-feet of water use next year. The Bureau of Reclamation called on the seven states, which divide a total of about 15 million acre-feet, to reach an agreement on the distribution of the cuts by August, when the bureau releases its projections used to define the annual operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

But Entsminger said Nevada is well positioned to absorb those cuts, given the state’s conservation programs. The governor enacted legislation last year to replace ornamental turf.

In 2021, southern Nevada consumed 242,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water, and SNWA expects to use about that much in 2022, according to SNWA spokesman Bronson Mack. The figure is lower than the state’s 300,000 acre-feet annual allocation and lower than the 279,000 acre-feet allocated to the state following drought-induced cuts implemented earlier this year. .

SNWA also updates its 50-year water needs assessment every year. The authority predicts that Southern Nevada’s population will grow from its current 2.5 million to 3.8 million by 2076. The state uses about 112 gallons per person per day and predicts it will have to reduce that to 86 gallons by 2036 to accommodate growth.

Evapotranspiration bill

But Entsminger added that conservation alone will not be enough. Nevada’s water allocation is the smallest among the seven states, about 1.8%. Agriculture is the biggest user and industry must play its part, Entsminger said.

About 80% of the water in the Colorado River is used for agriculture and 80% for forage crops like alfalfa.

“I’m not suggesting that farmers stop farming, but rather that they carefully consider crop selection and make the necessary investments to optimize irrigation efficiency,” Entsminger said.

“The burden of scarcity cannot be borne by any single community or sector,” he continued. “To the contrary, I urge every user of the Colorado River to follow our example and do all they can to preserve what remains of the lifeblood of the Southwest. Our collective future depends on it.

One tool supported by Entsminger is data usage. He called for legislation introduced by Cortez Masto that would establish a program within the U.S. Geological Survey that uses publicly available data from satellites and weather stations to provide estimates of evapotranspiration ( AND).

ET is a measure of water transferred from the earth to the atmosphere, often accounting for the largest share of water use in arid environments. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) introduced a House version of the measure, the Open Access Evapotranspiration Data Act, called the OpenET Bill.

“Working for a water utility, we strongly believe that you can’t manage what you can’t measure and the OpenET bill will give us the tools to measure exactly where water is being consumed,” Entsminger said.

During the hearing, Maurice Hall of the Environmental Defense Fund said that even if ET data were available, the bill would make it more accessible to water decision-makers, from ranchers to state officials.

“It puts that data in everyone’s hands so that we can start looking at the same data, diminish the arguments about whether this method is a little bit better, or this method is a little bit better, and converge on one piece of information. that we can all use and understand how it affects water decisions,” Hall said.

The Senate approves a burning measure

The Senate has approved legislation to provide medical care to an estimated 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic fumes from burning fireplaces, used primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of trash and waste.

That bill was approved 84 to 14. Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) backed the measure, which will cost about $280 billion over 10 years.

The House, which approved a burn pit bill in March, is expected to consider the Senate legislation as early as next week.

Nevada is home to more than 200,000 veterans, most of whom fought in the Vietnam War and Middle Eastern wars.

The bill would provide so-called presumptive status for 23 toxic exposure-related conditions on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) list of service-related presumptions.

Presumptive status allows veterans applying for disability benefits to waive certain documents and medical exams to prove injuries and illnesses caused by their time in the military.

The bill also extends presumptive status to hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MUGS) associated with Agent Orange exposure. MUGS can cause some forms of blood cancer. Agent Orange is a defoliating herbicide used during the Vietnam War. The bill also extends eligible Agent Orange exposure to veterans who served in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa and Johnston Atoll.

House passes inflation response bill

The House approved legislation to reduce the cost of food and gas. The measure was approved 221 to 204, with just seven Republicans voting in favor of the bill. He is unlikely to get enough GOP support to advance to the Senate.

All members of the Nevada Democratic House voted for the bill. The bill’s approval comes as inflation rose 8.6% between May 2021 and May 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the biggest increase since 1981.

The measure bundled a series of bills, including legislation to provide $500 million to farmers for rural broadband and precision farming and technology to help use fertilizers more efficiently.

Another provision aims to increase competition among meat packers by establishing a loan program for new and expanding meat processors and providing grants to increase jobs or purchase new equipment.

The package would also reduce high gas prices by allowing the sale of ethanol, a liquid fuel made from corn, to be strong year-round. The Environmental Protection Agency bans the sale of ethanol in the summer due to smog concerns. But President Joe Biden lifted the ban on summer ethanol sales in April. The bill would repeal the ban permanently.

For a full look at the measures delegates supported or opposed this week, see The Nevada IndependentCongressional vote tracking and other information below.

SEN. Jacky Rosen

Co-sponsored legislation:

S.4389 – Commission of Inquiry (COI) Elimination Act to make it United States policy to seek abolition of the targeted and biased investigation of the Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry United Nations (UNHRC) against Israel, and to withhold funding to eliminate the IOC.


Co-sponsored legislation:

HR 8118 – Prohibit the purchase, possession, or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians, with exceptions.

HR 8105 – Require small, medium, and large airport hubs to certify that airport service workers are paid prevailing wages and benefits, and for other purposes.

HR 8100 – To amend Title 38, United States Code, to enhance the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire psychiatrists.

HR 8072 – To review the qualification for termination of former State Department employees who were terminated due to those employees’ sexual orientation and for other purposes.

HR 8051 – Amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose an additional 1000% excise tax on the sale of large capacity ammunition feeders and semi-automatic assault weapons, and to others purposes.


Co-sponsored legislation:

HR 8100 – To amend Title 38, United States Code, to enhance the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire psychiatrists.


Co-sponsored legislation:

HR 8111 – To protect the confidentiality of personal reproductive or sexual health information, and for other purposes.

HR 8077 – To include reasonable costs of high-speed Internet service in utility allowances for families residing in public housing and for other purposes.