LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – The Las Vegas Valley Water District says households saved 3.1 billion gallons of water in 2023 after implementing excessive use charges, describing the debated policy as effective for conservation and long-term sustainability of the Las Vegas Valley.

According to officials, the change instituted in early 2023 targeted the top 10% of water users, many who have lush lawns and large properties. Officials said 6% of households received excessive use charges, and half received charges once or twice before pivoting towards a change.

That’s enough water savings to fill the Luxor pyramid eight times, or fill more than 6,326 Olympic swimming pools.

The excessive use charge policy will continue, according to spokesperson Bronson Mack.

“We don’t have any intention of retiring the excessive use charge; it is performing quite well and we are driving down that water use. That is a benefit to really everybody, in that it is helping to ensure better efficiency of our water use and water conservation, which again means more water in Lake Mead and more water for the future,” Mack said.

The program generated $31 million in fees, according to district officials. It will fund new policies and programs to encourage and help residents to fix leaks:

· New Leak Adjustment Policy: users will get a leak adjustment every 12 months to lower their bill due to a surprise leak.

· Repair Reimbursement Program: The program will pay up to half of the costs of repairs, up to $1,000

· Proposed leak detection voucher: In March, the LVVWD Board will consider a $250 voucher to help residents find a leak on their property

· Low-income leak assistance: the LVVWD is working to establish a program with community partners to help low-income residents pay for repairs

The Water Fairness Coalition has been a notable presence at every LVVWD meeting, voicing concerns over the implementation of charges when many long-time residents have large properties with old vegetation. Laura McSwain called the new leak adjustment policy a step in the right direction, but continues to fight against the excessive use charge structure.

“We have all kinds of different property inventory throughout the valley. A ‘one size fits all’ quantity of water before you hit a penalty isn’t reasonable,” McSwain said. “We pay different amounts of taxes based on the size and the values of our properties. To deviate from that on water policy is fundamentally unfair,” she said.

“Trees are dying. The prescriptions that the water districts putting forth, as to how much people should be watering is not necessarily enough to support mature trees and we have a forest here… We have to be cautious that we don’t do damage that is irreversible,” she said, pointing to concerns among many property owners.

FOX5 reported on those watering concerns, last year. The LVVWD said that many non-native plants and trees are susceptible to excessive heat and drought and will not survive the Valley’s warming temperatures, and excessive watering will not save them; planting drought resistant varieties is crucial, the LVVWD said.

McSwain and others in the Coalition voice concerns over the rise in sprawl in the ever-expanding perimeter of the Las Vegas Valley, calling for strategic growth in already-developed areas. The LVVWD said, in four years, it added 60,000 more customers and still decreased overall use by 26%.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *