Efforts to end the long-standing Boulder City practice of sending more than a million gallons of wastewater a day to evaporate in the desert took a step forward last week as U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto announced $1 million in federal funding for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) to design a wastewater recycling system for Boulder City.
Cortez Masto said the first-of-its-kind, large-scale water recycling program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will ultimately provide water for more than 500,000 homes in the region. Southern Nevada — the current practice in Boulder City notwithstanding — currently recycles over 99% of its indoor wastewater, and SNWA is working to expand reuse to include outdoor water use.
“With the ongoing drought, we need to continue to do everything we can to maximize our water resources, and that’s why I’ve worked so hard to expand our water recycling programs in Nevada and throughout the West,” said Cortez Masto.
Currently the vast majority of Boulder City wastewater, which totals between 1.2 and 1.5 million gallons per day, is sent to evaporation ponds after being filtered to remove solid waste. A small amount of the wastewater is sold for use in dust control.
Earlier this year, the city council requested that SNWA complete feasibility studies on two wastewater options. One option would see the construction of a recharge well that would return wastewater —eventually, after it filtered through the ground —back to Lake Mead. This option would increase the amount of water available to Southern Nevada by providing reuse credits for water taken from Lake Mead.
The second option being studied would involve upgrading or replacing the current wastewater treatment plant to improve the quality of the water to make it suitable for irrigation use. The resulting filtered and treated water would be used for irrigation at the two city-owned golf courses and possibly Veterans Memorial Park.
Completion of the feasibility studies, which were requested in March of this year, is expected to take at least six months and possibly as long as a year. The city intends to seek additional public input after the studies are complete before deciding on a path moving forward.
Per city staff, the $1 million dollar grant will be used to fund the SNWA feasibility study of the two proposed avenues for dealing with Boulder City wastewater.