LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – A major financial boost coming to the Las Vegas Valley for a major restoration project.

The lower part of the wash has seen considerable erosion impacting the flow of water, its filtration,and the habitats many fish and animals call home.

“This morning, we’re here to celebrate an incredible win, a $20 million investment in improving the Las Vegas Wash.”

Representative Suzie Lee of Southern Nevada joining U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Commissioner, and Las Vegas native Camille Calimlim Touton to announce mroe than $50 million in funding for erosion control and habitat restoration. The largest chunk of that money coming right here to Southern Nevada.

“$20 million of that $51 million will come here to the Southern Nevada Water Authority to create a wetland, and other habitat restoration, within the Lake Mead Recreation Area and the Las Vegas Wash,” said Touton.

But the project does even more. Over the years, water has eroded the southern section of the Wash. It currently carries about 250 million gallons a day to Lake Mead. And that number’s only going up.

“The more water we put through the Wash, the more erosion happens. And below these structures, on the other side of Lake Las Vegas, we continue to see about three feet of erosion here vertically,” says Colby Pellegrino, the General Manager of Resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

“More people means more water. More water means more runoff. And more runoff means more erosion, which is why this funding is so critical, and why we need to safeguard this precious resource more now than ever,” adds Lee.

So the Bureau of Reclamation will team up with SNWA to create a way to slow down the water and protect the wash.

“This funding will go to construct a weir, or basically like a speed bump that helps slow down the water so it has a chance to basically clean itself before it gets deposited into Lake Mead,” explains Lee.

Pellegrino expands on that idea.

“The weir is sort of constructed underneath, so it’s a hole series of rocks that are placed to slow down and gradually address the slope there, and it’s made with huge boulders instead of sand, so it won’t erode.”

But a weir does more than provide stability and prevent erosion.

“It essentially creates a kidney where we get to filter everything that’s going into Lake Mead one more time,” Pellegrino tellsus.

And this type of low dam is very beneficial for the surrounding ecosystem.

“They also create great habitat for wildlife, we do some repairing and restoration along with them. They help improve water quality, and they help benefit the endangered razor-back sucker spawning area in Lake Mead.”

The Las Vegas Wash project is the first of 18 federal projects in 18 states planned by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Representative Lee tells FOX5, she’s pushing for even more investment from the Biden administration into the Wash, Lake Mead, and the Colorado River.

All the funding is coming from President Biden’s Infrastructure Law.


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