Nevada moving forward with water conservation efforts

Reno, Nevada
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July 12, 2023 — When it comes to water conservation in the southwest, Nevada has been a leader.Opens in a new tab.  The state is now making further strides in water conservation through an innovative project named OneWater Nevada. This project is demonstrating the potential of wastewater recycling for clean drinking water, paving the way to alleviate future drought concerns.

OneWater NevadaOpens in a new tab., a joint venture between the Truckee Meadows Water AuthorityOpens in a new tab. (TMWA), the cities of Reno and Sparks, the University of Nevada, Washoe County, and the Western Regional Water Commission, aims to transform wastewater from everyday sources like toilets and showers into clean, drinkable water.

According to OneWater Nevada’s website:

OneWater Nevada is a collaborative effort of regional agencies exploring a comprehensive approach to extending the resiliency and sustainability of local water resources for future generations. This approach takes into account the interconnected nature of water systems and seeks to balance our community’s needs with the protection and preservation of natural resources. Through this effort, OneWater Nevada seeks to identify, understand, and implement water practices, such as:

    • Exploring ways to both conserve and extend the use of existing water resources.
    • Considering long term water-resource and water-quality management issues.
    • Helping protect the environmental integrity of our watersheds.
    • Developing technologies and practices that sustain our quality of life.

OneWater Nevada’s primary goal is to ensure there is enough water available to meet the needs of all users while protecting, and even improving, the region’s water quality and environmental integrity. This involves careful monitoring of water supplies, assessing future water demands, and developing strategies to meet those demands while minimizing the impact on the natural environment.

Reno’s consistent water supply was recently bolstered by significant winter snowfall; however, concerns over climate change impacts are prompting water security measures such as wastewater recycling.

Harnessing New Technology for Water Recycling.

In contrast to coastal facilities that use reverse osmosis to purify water and release brine into the ocean, inland locations like Reno require different solutions. The team at TMWA has introduced a novel technology using charcoal filtering and ozone addition, which after extensive testing since 2017, has been found to meet national and state safe drinking water standards.

Following this success, plans for a large-scale facility are under development, with construction set to begin next year. The facility, estimated to cost about $120 million to construct and a few million more to operate, will be among the first of its kind in the country.

This pioneering initiativeOpens in a new tab. is gaining national attention, but it will take additional years of water testing before its output can be introduced to the public.

Reduced Water Consumption in Nevada.

Meanwhile, water consumption in the state of Nevada is decreasingOpens in a new tab.. The first five months of 2023 saw Southern Nevada’s water use from the Colorado River drop by 25%, primarily due to a wet and cool start to the year.

Between January and May, the region’s Colorado River water consumption was less than 61,000 acre-feet, down from almost 82,000 acre-feet during the same period the previous year. This reduction is credited to ongoing conservation efforts and unusually wet and cool weather conditions.  Whether this conservation trend can be maintained remains to be seen. Water use increases during the summer months.

Nevada’s allotment of water from the Colorado River is typically 300,000 acre-feet annually, but due to low water levels in Lake Mead, this has been reduced to 275,000 acre-feet. Despite this, Nevada managed to reduce its water use to 224,000 acre-feet last year and is projected to use even less water this year.

Lower Colorado Basin States Agreement.

Nevada, along with Arizona and California, recently agreed on a plan to keep at least 3 million acre-feet of water in Lake Mead by the end of 2026. If approved, this agreement would commit Nevada to save an additional 75,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead in 2023 and 2024, with slightly smaller saving commitments in the subsequent years.  The proposal is being reviewed by the federal government, which plans to release a draft environmental impact statement for the proposal in the coming fall.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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