The water Southern Nevadans drink starts as melting Rocky Mountain snow 700 miles away.
It travels down the Colorado River to Lake Mead, becoming part of the 4 trillion gallons of water stored in the giant reservoir behind Hoover Dam. From there billions of dollars’ worth of purification and pumping equipment get it to the taps of the Las Vegas area’s 2 million residents
That’s a lot to pack into one building, but the Springs Preserve boils it down for its new WaterWorks attraction, which opens Saturday.
“The new exhibit that we ‘re opening up very shortly lets them find out where that mystery is when we all turn on our taps,” Bruno Bowles, the manager of the Springs Preserves, told KNPR's State of Nevada.
Housed in the working Charleston Heights Pumping Station, WaterWorks offers interactive exhibits on everything from the invasive quagga mussel to the 20-foot pipes that draw water from the lake.
“I think it's going to give people the opportunity to... realize how fortunate we are in Southern Nevada to have such an awesome high-quality water supply,” Bowles said.
Bringing that concept home is the Global Terrace, which offers visitors a chance to learn about the challenges water issues pose around the world, including the daily struggles many face to secure clean water.
The $1.5 million WaterWorks attraction was funded primarily by the One Drop Foundation, a global charity that improves access to safe water. Its headquarters are in Canada but it has operations in Las Vegas.
“It is one of the reasons that WaterWorks for us is another great exhibit because of the partnership we have with One Drop." Bowles said, "So, we’re able to talk about not only the importance and how difficult it is to move water throughout an enormous valley… but also the struggles people face throughout the world to have a reliable, clean source of water”
Pien Koopman is the communications manager for One Drop. She said despite the drought Southern Nevada has been in for several years, Nevada still has it very good when it comes to water because we turn on the taps and get clean water.
Many people in the developing world do not have that option. They often have to travel miles to get clean water. The exhibit hopes to focus attention on the challenges in the developing world and what One Drop is doing to change that.
“We are starting to realize that water is probably the most challenging issue of the 21st Century that we all do need to put our resources together and our heads together,“ she said.
WaterWorks is a partnership between the Las Vegas Valley Water District, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Springs Preserve.
Bruno Bowles, Springs Preserve manager; Pien Koopman, One Drop communications manager