Hello Blog Readers,

 

I’m back from Las Vegas! And they are a Johnny come lately in terms of sustainability. Here are a few of the things that stuck out to me: No one recycles…Anything.. At least in the residential areas I visited, but after some researching, I realized that I was there in between garbage/recycling pickup times, as it occurs every two weeks and that this is slowly catching on across the city, so maybe not everyone has gotten involved just yet (I’ll be back to check up on this, Vegas!).  On the other hand, businesses on the strip are getting creative by melting down food scraps for hog feed, as well as promoting recycling among their employees by starting a “Conservation Starts at Home” campaign. Yay!

Another issue I noticed which is probably obvious to anyone who visits there, Vegas goes through water like nobody’s business! That wouldn’t draw that much attention if Vegas were located in the Pacific Northwest where we get plenty of rain each year, but Las Vegas is in the middle of a desert. Unfortunately, the water they are abusing comes from the Colorado River’s dammed incarnation—Lake Mead, a beautiful, enormous lake. I was on Lake Mead and was able to witness first-hand the diminishing amount of water available.

The water level, as seen in my photo above, has dropped about 90 feet since its construction.

 

Las Vegas has also taken to the more conventional methods steps to be more sustainable. These steps include the addition of many bike lanes, which no one really seemed to use, and solar energy (which should become increasingly profitable once the Hoover Dam is no longer able to produce energy because of Lake Mead’s decreasing water depth).

Another thing Vegas has going for it is the LEED Certified desert living center, called the Spring Preserve, located right in the center of the city. The Preserve features protected trails and animals, and offers plenty of opportunity for community involvement, as well as a weekly farmers market.

My other plug would be to include some info on the Neon boneyard! While not eco-friendly per se, Las Vegas has a serious problem with just imploding casinos once they’re no longer profitable and rebuilding, really leaving no trace and making it difficult to keep a sense of history or culture for locals. That’s why it’s so cool that old discarded neon signs began being saved and collected beginning in 1996…there are some really famous ones, check it out if you are ever in the area!

-mark

 

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  1. Nice blog, Mark! Two comments from a native Nevadan (for what that’s worth).

    First of all, I agree that water is an incredibly precious and unfortunately abused resource in Southern Nevada, from residents opting for lush lawns instead of desert xeriscapes to the many golf courses (30+) and casinos/water attractions. A serious water conservation conversation/reform effort needs to happen, but it’s one that needs to involve multiple states/policymakers from the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basin. As you mentioned, Las Vegas gets water from the Colorado River, but the Colorado River Law also apportioned water to 7 states (and later Mexico) way back in the 1920’s with rates set to remain “in perpetuity.” In perpetuity, how’s that for urban planning?!? http://www.snwa.com/ws/river_law.html
    The water allotments were based on population in 1920’s, with Nevada getting the smallest allocation; the breakdown made sense then, because who in their right mind is going to move to the desert, where there’s no sustenance or industry, right?

    Well somebody didn’t get the memo because fast forward 80 years later, and the metro area’s closing in on 2 million people. My point being, the water allocation has remained the same since its inception, with little to no adjustment based on proportionate population growth. Water rights disputes/litigation between Upper and Lower Basins are ongoing, but states are finally taking some proactive steps: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-12-14-colorado-river_N.htm.
    It’s going to be a big battle and states need to aggressively advocate and enact policy change, but in the meantime there are things people can do to help, like you suggest. Thanks!

    Second quick comment, the Neon Boneyard is amazing!! It’s totally apocalyptic and bizarre. Reserve a spot on the tour early (i.e., 2 wks).

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