I recently flew into Las Vegas to rent a car so I could drive to Zion National Park.
I am always struck by the changing but ever bright bling of the famous Vegas Strip. There is one other aspect of Vegas that got my attention. It’s something we should all notice.
First, I’ll ask what you are doing to conserve water. I find it interesting, and disappointing, that in all the chatter about the upcoming election, very few politicians are talking about a real issue we all face — the water shortage. Lake Powell and Lake Mead are drying up. The federal government continues to regulate water usage from the Colorado River, and Arizona farmers, especially in southern Arizona, will face the greatest cutback. That makes no sense.
I am trying to be more mindful of my water usage and looking for more ways to conserve. Once source for water conservation is Las Vegas.
An article from a national news network provides the following information.
“For having a reputation as a city of excess, we’re actually one of the most water-efficient cities in the world,” said John Entsminger, Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager. “Everything we use indoors is recycled. If it hits a drain in Las Vegas, we clean it. We put it back in Lake Mead. You could literally leave every faucet, every shower running in every hotel room, and it won’t consume any more water.”
Even the famous fountains of the Bellagio get in on the act through their recycling program.
In the past two decades, Lake Mead has dropped a startling 180 feet due to a the ongoing megadrought, made worse by climate change and the rapid growth of cities and agriculture in the Southwest. Southern Nevada, though, has beaten the odds by cutting its overall water use by 26%, while also adding 750,000 people to its population since 2002.
Now, a new law, the first of its kind in the nation, bans non-functional grass, defined as grass used to make roadways and roundabouts look good while serving no other purpose. The water authority said banning non-functional grass will save 9.5 billion gallons of water, which is nearly 10% of southern Nevada’s total water supply, according to the national news network’s report.
Early in the Book of Genesis, God creates humankind and gives stewardship over of God’s creation to humans. As such, we are called to care for the resources we are blessed with and to see that the resources are shared with all of God’s children and creation. This is a justice issue — equal distribution of resources.
Of all places, Las Vegas is serving as a guide. In this case, what happens in Vegas should not stay in Vegas.
Editor's Note: Rev. Brady Abel is United Church of Sun City pastor.