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Water conservation top priority for city

With the results of the primary election last month I will resume writing this monthly column for the remainder of my term as mayor ending in November. I congratulate Joe Hardy as the next mayor of Boulder City and look forward to a smooth transition in working with Joe.

While Boulder City is fortunately in a solid financial condition and our municipal employees continue to maintain and improve services to our residents, there are challenges ahead. Over the next several weeks the City Council will have information presented for consideration of plans to make significant progress in water conservation efforts.

I have written in the past about my efforts to find solutions that are right for Boulder City with regard to water conservation. Councilmember Claudia Bridges had advocated for a line to be constructed from our local wastewater treatment facility back into Henderson. I opposed this plan as it was clear the primary use of the line would be to facilitate growth in the Eldorado Valley. I have worked with our city staff to develop a plan to further treat wastewater and recycle it for irrigation at local golf courses and parks.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has expressed support for such a plan and to provide funding for the project. SNWA supplies water to Boulder City as well as other cities in Clark County. SNWA has made it clear that we must reduce the amount of water being used in order to avoid forced cutbacks. The Bureau of Reclamation recently gave a 60-day notice that Nevada, Arizona and California must develop a plan to reduce water use by up to 4 million acre-feet of water. That is a huge amount of water. If a plan is not agreed on by the states, the federal government will impose a plan it develops.

There has been much talk during the election campaign of candidates who have plans without offering specifics for water conservation. I have made this a priority for the past three years and actual plans with specific details have been discussed and developed through community workshops and input directly from residents. The state Legislature has mandated the removal of “nonfunctional” or decorative grass in public areas with exceptions for areas like parks and schools.

City staff will begin implementing these plans that have been discussed with the approval of the City Council and input from our residents. These actions are not only the right things to be doing but many are also being mandated due to the rapidly accelerating drop in water supplies on the Colorado River.

There have been articles and opinion pieces that have appeared in this newspaper over the past year suggesting that we can continue as we have in the past. Statements that any attempts to conserve water, manage growth or find more efficient water uses are unnecessary and simply attempts to achieve some nefarious, evil goals are worse than just misleading. These statements are aimed at keeping the status quo for those who have things pretty good right now with growth policies that serve their interests.

The reality is that there are available methods we can use to lessen the impacts on our lives while still reducing significantly the amount of water the city uses. Our city staff has developed a listing of plants and trees that require less water. That information is available on the city website, bcnv.org.

SNWA also provides information on reducing outdoor water usage and continues to pay $3 per square foot of turf that is removed.

SNWA has mandated the amount of water being used at our local golf courses be reduced by a third. These types of reductions can be managed to still maintain our “clean, green” pride by being smarter and more efficient with our water use.

We will have to overcome the foot dragging by some like our Parks and Recreation Director Roger Hall who can’t seem to envision how landscaping can be done in ways that are efficient and attractive. For those who seek to deny the reality of where we are, the sand they choose to bury their heads into should not be what is now called beautiful Lake Mead.

The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.

Kiernan McManus is mayor of Boulder City. He is a native of Boulder City first elected to City Council in 2017.

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