May 17, 2023 – If Colorado River supplies worsen, the Southern Nevada Water District wants the ability to regulate household water consumption by using a flow control device as a means of enforcement.
The proposal is reminiscent of a similar measure that was employed in southern California last summer, when flow restriction devices and fines were used to curtail water use by those who refused to conserve water.
Assembly Bill 220, if passed, would authorize the Southern Nevada Water Authority to impose a limit of half an acre-foot of water per year for each household during a federally declared emergency water shortage. The bill needs to pass the Senate Committee on Natural Resources by the end of this week. The Committee meets tomorrow.
This limit equals around 160,000 gallons of water, including both indoor and outdoor use per household. Las Vegas’ 3 News reports that most households use less than the proposed limit, with the average home only reaching 75% of the proposed threshold. The top 20% of water consumers would need to reduce their water usage.
According to 3 News, critics of the bill labeled it as “severe” and expressed concerns over the excessive power it could grant to the District.
The District says that the proposed regulatory power is something it hopes it never has to use, but something it deems necessary to have available given the unpredictable future of water resources. Bronson Mack from the Southern Nevada Water Authority stated, “This measure is designed to be put into effect if the Colorado River’s condition continues to worsen. If the federal government imposes further shortage cuts on Nevada, this would provide us with an additional strategy that we could utilize to ensure sufficient water supply for all.”
The water conservation bill addresses several other water wastage issues, such as aiding homeowners with septic tanks to disconnect them and connect to communal sewage systems. It outlines guidelines for high-efficiency plumbing in newly built homes, including toilets, showers, and faucets.