Nevada's two senators — Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen — have introduced legislation that’s designed to combat drought and protect the water supply for people in Nevada, California, and elsewhere in the West.
The idea would increase Nevada’s water allocation from Lake Mead by creating a grant program for large-scale water recycling projects in 17 states.
“We're thinking of innovative ways to continue to really put water back into the Colorado River for our use, and for the use of the basin states,” Cortez Masto told State of Nevada. "We've got to show that this can be done, that there's a partnership" among the basin states.
Additional recycling capacity would allow greater reuse of water through improved treatment. That is something the Southern Nevada Water Authority is exploring with water utilities in California through potentially funding a new treatment plant in Los Angeles County.
Cortez Masto said she is working with officials in both states on the effort, which could be a model for other infrastructure projects.
“This is an opportunity now for us to help support at a federal level, these large-scale water recycling projects,” she said. “That's going to have a major impact on our households”
She said existing federal programs to support wastewater reuse and recycling weren't created to support the types of projects being considered today.
Cortez Masto said aggressive use of water recycling and other conservation measures has been a success in the Las Vegas area that could be replicated elsewhere in the arid region.
“I don't think most people in Nevada know that in Southern Nevada uses less water now than it did 20 years ago, even though the city has doubled in size,” she said. “It is all around what we have seen the Southern Nevada Water Authority doing with their water-smart landscaping, residential programs around conservation, you're going to see more of that. And really the goal will be to get out of their states to do the same thing.”
The Large Scale Water Recycling and Drought Resiliency Investment Act was introduced earlier this month. Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada and other lawmakers have introduced companion legislation in the House.
Catherine Cortez Masto, Senator, D-Nev.
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