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Waste Water Pipeline Project. A simple depiction of the area. Intake. Downstream. Less dirty water. Wastewater treatment plants release ‘clean’ water. Polluted area. Dirtied water. LAKE MEAD. Las Vegas Wash. The area, the problem.

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A simple depiction of the area



Less dirty water

Wastewater treatment plants release ‘clean’ water

Polluted area

Dirtied water


Las VegasWash

the area the problem
The area, the problem
  • 3 wastewater plants release an average of 144 million gallons per day (mgd).
  • This water passes through a polluted area before entering the Las Vegas Wash
  • The Las Vegas Wash is a wetland that acts as a natural filtration system.
  • The water then enters Lake Mead, which is Las Vegas’ source of freshwater.
  • The drinking water intake pipe for Las Vegas’ water lies 6 miles downstream of the Wash.
the polluted water and concerns
The polluted water and concerns
  • Pollutants:
    • Perchlorate: rocket fuel from local manufacturing sites discovered in 1997
      • Oxygen-rich salt that affects thyroid gland
      • Thyroid cancer is an effect of overexposure
      • May cause birth defects
    • Radiation
    • Street and lawn runoff (pesticides, oil)
    • Cryptosporidium
      • Killed 43 people in the L.V. Valley in 1994
evolution of the problem
Evolution of the problem
  • In 1998, Water Quality Citizens Advisory Committee requests the Southern Nevada Water Authority address local water quality issues.
      • How to avoid polluting and ruining local water supply and Lake Mead (recreation, etc.)
  • Water Authority vests Clean Water Coalition with authority to deal with these issues. Authority and EPA oversee CWC.
clean water coalition
Clean Water Coalition
  • Composed of the 3 agencies responsible for wastewater treatment entering the Wash.

1 The City of Las Vegas

2 The City of Henderson

3 Clark County Water Reclamation District

  • Proposed building a pipeline to divert wastewater farther away from the intake.
the pipeline proposal
The pipeline proposal
  • First proposed in 2001 as a $100 million project by the Clean Water Coalition
  • In 2002, cost estimates jumped

to $1 Billion.

  • Pipeline to empty south and east of point where Las Vegas Wash releases into Lake Mead. Pipeline endpoint(s) yet to be determined.
  • The pipeline would require drilling through mountains.
  • Better water quality?
    • Pipeline empties farther away from intake pipe.
    • Less flow through Wash means Wash cleans its flow more effectively.
  • Pro-active measure?
    • Pre-empts future pollution regulations
  • Exorbitant costs ($1 billion as current estimate!)
  • Drilling through mountains problematic:
      • Time and Cost
      • Effect on ecosystem?
      • Noise
  • Opportunity Costs
      • Las Vegas Wash
      • Recycling treated wastewater
      • Cleaning polluted area
  • Do nothing
  • Clean polluted area and make industry responsible
  • Protect and enlarge wetlands area in the Wash
  • Build a low dam to prevent sediments from entering the Wash
  • Create floating wetlands to filter pollutants
  • Build supplemental treatment facility
  • Endpoint(s) of proposed pipeline
      • Is the whole Valley polluted?
  • Is the amount of treated water significant to Lake Mead water quality?
  • Results of EPA’s impact assessment, begun in summer 2002
some alternatives to the pipeline
Some alternatives to the pipeline
  • Clean polluted area and make industry responsible.
  • Protect and enlarge wetlands area in the Wash.
facts about the wash
Facts about the Wash
  • Environmentalists claim that the Wash’s wetlands can remove nearly any water pollutant that has caused local concern.
  • Takes only a few months to increase number of plants that “scrub” pollutants from water