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Monday, March 17, 2014

Las Vegas: The Great Satan of Water Wasters (or not).

Several months ago, I traveled to Las Vegas to report on a story about Southern Nevada's efforts to save water. When I told people around here what I was doing, they often laughed, as though it were some kind of joke. It wasn't. I went into the story with a wide open mind, and came back impressed by their efforts at efficiency, especially when it comes to water: Not only has per capita water use dropped considerably in the last decade, so has overall water use, even as the population has ballooned. To be clear, Vegas started out as a massive waster of water, so cutting back was less painful than it might have been elsewhere. And, perhaps more than any other city, Vegas faces very hard, not very distant limits to its water consumption. Until it can realize its dreams of pumping water from rural parts of the state -- which could be decades away -- it only has its share of the Colorado River to draw from.

Just because the city was forced to conserve, however, doesn't make that conservation any less impressive. Yet many readers seemed downright baffled that anyone would write a Las Vegas water story that does anything aside from condemning the city and even questioning its right to exist. One reader -- who apparently only read one of every three sentences -- called it a "fluff piece." Another complained that it wasn't the "brutal exposé of our pathetic definition of what it means to be 'green' in this country that I would have preferred."

Please read the article yourself, and especially the last section, and develop your own opinion. And here's a supplementary piece, addressing some other water issues in Vegas.

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