Washington, D.C. – At a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power, Ranking Member Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led a conversation about opportunities for technology to advance water conservation and management. She invited Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Mary Beth Sewald to discuss how Southern Nevada has modernized its water infrastructure to support the region’s growing population and economy.
“Looking to the future, climate change is expected to further stress our water systems, both here in the United States, and around the world,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “In my home state of Nevada, water providers recognize the competing uses of water and how this adversely affected water management…In Nevada, we recover roughly 75 percent of our wastewater, and in Southern Nevada we currently reuse nearly all of our wastewater. Water recycling and reuse play an important role in addressing water security in the arid West. Although water recycling and reuse is just one tool in our waste management toolbox, we must also look at many different approaches to water management.”
She continued, “I am especially pleased to have Mary Beth Sewald here today from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce to highlight the diverse approach of Southern Nevada’s deploying to address their water needs. The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in supporting a number of municipal policy innovations that have significantly changed Las Vegas’ reliance on water. The Chamber continues to work tirelessly on partnerships that promote smart water use and ensure economic development in the region.”
Sewald stated in her testimony, “Southern Nevada has become a global leader in conservation. Even as our population has grown, we have found ways to reduce that water usage and make the most of this precious resource. We’ve established strict codes on new homes and commercial buildings, removed unnecessary turf, implemented public awareness campaigns and we strongly encourage everyone to incorporate good water management into their daily lives. And, we’ve been aggressive in experimenting with brand new innovations… What we’ve demonstrated in Las Vegas is that private business can be strategic partners in water conservation. In Clark County, we have secured our water stability for the next fifty years. Now, we look to the future.”
Additionally, the senator previewed her new water conservation legislation, the Energy and Water Research Integration Act. Once introduced, this bill will require the Department of Energy to consider energy and water intensity in all of its research and development projects.
“We must also look at the complex relationship between energy and water,” the senator said. “It takes a lot of water to produce energy, and it takes a lot of energy to produce clean water. That’s why I am planning to introduce a bill that aims to decrease water and energy intensity by directing the Department of Energy to incorporate water use and manufacturing into all of its relevant research and development programs. This bill is a good example of how innovative solutions to improve energy and water efficiency are developed, and it is an important component in our discussions today about addressing water security with innovation and technology.”
Full video of this exchange is available here.