Gray water recycling opposed by Southern Nevada Water Authority

April 14, 2009

Gray water recycling opposed by Southern Nevada Water Authority The Southern Nevada Water Authority has lost its mind.  Residents aren’t allowed to recycle their gray water because it might lower their water bill.  Say what?  Logic has clearly left the room.

The Las Vegas Sun reported that the Southern Nevada Water Authority is opposed to gray water recycling for a number of reasons.  Currently, gray water is pumped from Las Vegas homes to a treatment plant and then into Lake Mead.  An equivalent amount of water is then pumped back to the treatment plants and then to Las Vegas homes.  This is a 12 mile trip each way.

Several homeowners and builders want to shorten the water trip so that water from sinks, showers, washing machines, and dishwashers- known as gray water – can be recycled right at home.  This gray water can be used in toilets and for watering gardens and lawns.  By recycling the owners get more use from the water for which they have paid.

As a matter of fact, the water savings could lower water bills by 60 to 70 percent just by investing about $200 and reworking pipes.  Besides conserving water and energy, it lowers bills, so what’s not to like.  After all, homeowners have paid for the water.

Herein lies one of the issues.  Who owns the property rights to the used water.  Logic would say that since the original water was paid for by the property owners, the used water should be theirs to use as they wish.  This isn’t the way the water authority sees it.

Apparently the water authority uses water credits from the return of used water for credits to pump more water.  This allows “allows Las Vegas to consume more than its annual 300,000-acre-foot allotment from the Colorado River.”

So recycling the gray water will cut down on the amount of water returned to the Lake and will reduce the water credit to pump more water to Las Vegas.  It may also mean that Las Vegas is limited to the 300,000-acre-foot allotment.

According to the water authority, conserving and reusing gray water will lower the amount of water Las Vegas can obtain and use from Lake Mead and the Colorado River.  The water authority fails to take into account that by reusing the water, the residents won’t need as much water from those water sources.  It should make water cheaper for all concerned.

Instead of seeing the reuse of gray water as a way of conserving water, the water authority claims that by reducing water bills by reusing gray water will somehow translate into people using more water.  Oh well, no one has ever claimed that bureaucracy used logic or made sense.

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3 Responses to “Gray water recycling opposed by Southern Nevada Water Authority”

  1. Kirk Bennett:


    Thanks for this post and for pointing out some of the crazy thinking taking place around the subject of water. There is similar thinking taking place at different water agencies in California about graywater recycling..sometimes they’re simply motivated to sell us (again) more of the water we’ve already used. Water really is more valuable than oil these days!

  2. Kirk Bennett:

    Thanks Susan for this post! Another example of the sometimes crazy thinking behind the issue of water. Ultimately it’s up to each homeowner to get involved directly through strategies for graywater recycling and rainwater harvesting. The water agencies are coming around…but some of them very slowly as you point out.


  3. Kris:

    Just harvest your own rainwater and recycle that! Cut the middle man out!

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