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Where Does Las Vegas’s Water Supply Come From (And Why Does It Matter)?

fountains of bellagio at sunset

Las Vegas is a thriving city in the middle of the Mojave Desert. But any large metropolitan area needs an equally big water supply, especially one as glamourous as Las Vegas. The city is dotted with beautiful fountains and luxurious swimming pools, which require a constant supply of the resource. With more than two million people living in the Las Vegas Valley (which is in southern Nevada, the US’s driest state), residents and visitors often find themselves wondering where all that water comes from. Read on to learn more about how Las Vegas is supplied with water, how the water is filtered, and what this means for residents.

Where Does Las Vegas’s Water Come From?

The desert vegetation surrounding the city doesn’t do much to help the soil retain water, which means that very little of the city’s water supply comes from groundwater. However, much of the rain that falls during the summer monsoon season flows down the Las Vegas mountain range and through a network of channels. From there, the water gathers in the Las Vegas Wash which flows directly into Lake Mead, which is also fed by the Colorado River. Lake Mead is one of the largest manmade lakes in the world, created when the Hoover Dam was built on the Colorado River in the first half of the 20th century. 

Las Vegas gets most of its water from Lake Mead, which in turn, gets its water from the Colorado River. The Colorado River starts as snowmelt high in the Rocky Mountains and empties in the Gulf of Mexico. Las Vegas’s water supply clearly travels a long way to get to its destination, so it’s important that every drop is put to the best possible use. Knowing where the water supply comes from matters because every resident has to work to use water efficiently. While Las Vegas is sometimes known as a place of excess, water is never wasted here!

Even the famous fountain in front of the Bellagio Hotel filters and reuses the 20 million gallons that it takes to fill it. Though the beautiful fountains found outside of hotels and resorts along the Strip may seem luxurious, they only use a fraction of the city’s water. 

How Is The Water Filtered?

Because every drop is so precious, recycling and reusing water is huge for the residents of Las Vegas. Every day, millions of gallons of used water and sewage get treated by the Clark County Water Reclamation District. This reclaimed water gets fed back out into the Las Vegas Wash, which is a spacious area of wetlands that essentially purifies Las Vegas’s water even further, filtering out harmful substances like fertilizer and contaminants.

From the Las Vegas Wash, billions of gallons of water are fed back into Lake Mead. From year to year, the water put back into Lake Mead is measured, and the water that is taken out is restricted, so the amount being taken out never exceeds the amount being put in. In detail, here’s how the water is filtered:

  1. The water that’s used by homes and businesses travels through 2000 miles of sewer pipes until it arrives at treatment facilities
  2. The sewage water passes through filters that trap any trash, which is removed and taken to landfills
  3. The sewage then flows into tanks underground, where solids settle on the bottom, and grease and oil float to the top. This scum is skimmed off,  and the solids on the bottom are scraped into underground pits.
  4. A substance called activated sludge is blended into the wastewater. Activated sludge contains billions of microorganisms that feed on organic waste in the water.  In addition, oxygen is added to the water to convert ammonia from urine into nitrogen gas.
  5. Next, the water is piped into tanks, where the activated sludge is removed. 
  6. The water is then filtered through sand and anthracite to remove any leftover solid particles.
  7. Finally, the water is disinfected with ultraviolet lamps to remove any bacteria and viruses. This means that you can’t get infected with viruses like COVID-19 from your water. 

How Does Water Get To Homes?

After this long journey through the treatment process, most of the water is released back into the Las Vegas Wash, while a small fraction of it heads to golf courses, businesses, and parks that use water. The water travels miles from the treatment plant back to Lake Mead, where it waits to be reused again by the citizens of Las Vegas. It’s regularly tested and checked to make sure that all water passes safe-drinking standards.

Large intake pipes draw water from Lake Mead and supply it to the city’s residents. As water levels in the lake have gone down over the years, pipes have been installed deeper beneath the surface. Because of a long-lasting drought that began in the year 2000, a pipe known as the third straw was installed deep in the lake and started being used in 2015. 

The water flows from Lake Mead through pipes, gets treated a little more to ensure the highest purity standards, and is then used by all of Las Vegas and the surrounding suburbs for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, and everything else water gets used for!

Fresh Water For All!

Though Las Vegas does a great job of treating water for residents’ use, you can also do your part to make sure the water in your home is, clean, clear and fresh. Installing a water purification system into your home is a great step to take in order to make sure that the water your family is drinking meets your own standards, not just the standards that the city has put into place.  

If you’d like to know more about a water purification system for your home, contact us. EcoWater has been providing clean, clear drinking water for the residents of Las Vegas for nearly 40 years. We are dedicated to eco-friendly practices, and our quality service and expertise mean you’ll be getting the very best water for your home at a smart price.

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