YERTpod26: Gambling on Water in Nevada

Dear YERTians,

Water is one of those topics that keeps surfacing on this trip. But unlike a spring, we appear to be seeing the fall of water availability across the country. With explosive growth in Las Vegas and equally explosive shrinkage in Lake Mead (Vegas’ water supply), the stage is set for interesting times ahead – especially as Vegas begins trying to tap into other Nevada water basins.

We went to the source… of the water… with Dan Greenlee, a field scientist for the USDA’s “SNOTEL” program. SNOTEL stands for “SNOwpack TELemetry,” which is basically a system of sensors at “over 660 remote sites in mountain snowpack zones” in the Western United States and Alaska. This system gives scientists and policy makers a pretty good prediction of water supplies for the coming year.

Then we rolled on to Las Vegas—a city with perhaps the most sensitivity to the water supply. We all know that growing fast in a desert can be a recipe for trouble, but Doug Bennett, Southern Nevada Water Authority Conservation Manager (we met him in Las Vegas), is working hard to put his city on a path towards destruction… of lawns! That’s right, one trick up his water conservation sleeve is a $1.50 payment for every square foot of lawn that residents destroy.

And, of course, we sat down with Elvis at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel to discuss the finer points of water conservation.

In the Flow,

Ben, Mark, and Julie (and Erika)

Your YERT Team

P.S. Breadcrumbs! For more information about the topics in this video, check out the links below…

  • SNOTEL: From their website, The US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service “operates and maintains an extensive, automated system designed to collect snowpack and related climatic data in the Western United States and Alaska. This system… operates over 660 remote sites in mountain snowpack zones.”
  • Southern Nevada Water Authority: This organization is essentially waging war against water scarcity, using a barrage of innovative programs including the “Water Smart Landscapes Rebate,” which, according to their website, pays $1.50 for “every square foot of lawn converted to water-smart landscaping.” We even saw dedicated “lawn demolition” companies when we drove through town. Cool.
  • We’ve tried a few composting toilets during YERT, and they really don’t smell! And heck, why would you want to put poop into fresh drinking water anyway? For more information, check out the “scoop” on wikipedia, and you can also watch our video “YERTpod24: Non-Invasive Ways to do Holidays in Hawaii” that describes the composting toilet in service at the Lova Lava Land eco-resort.


4 thoughts on “YERTpod26: Gambling on Water in Nevada

  1. Tyrone,

    We’re adding mp3 functionality to our videos, starting with the most recent ones. Just go to our video hosting site at and then click on the “permalink” for the video you’d like to listen to (choose your video on the YERT video player in and then look in the lower left hand corner of the player for a link to the permalink). In the lower right hand corner of that page you can find a grey box labeled “files and links.” Click on that and you’ll see a box with the url for the mp3 version of that video. I’ve pulled it out for you here, too:

    Would you like an audio podcast version of YERT pods on iTunes? You can get the video version in iTunes, but we don’t have an audio only version yet. That said, if we hear from enough folks who are interested, we may add it. In the meantime, you will always be able to get the mp3 file for our videos in the page.

    Hope that helps!


    P.S. Here’s the link to YERT videos on iTunes:

  2. Water shortage is a huge issue, not only in Nevada. But since Nevada is a huge income generating place, it seems more important than all the african and asian countries that have been using contaminated water for decades. I think Vegas will be fine. After all it can afford to buy as much water as it needs.

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