Water is precious in Las Vegas. Located within the Mojave Desert, it’s a city whose outskirts contain desert vegetation and dry mountain ranges. It gets only 4.17 inches of rain a year, with an average 21 days of rainfall.
Las Vegas is also a major travel destination, with over 42 million visitors in 2016. Resorts actually use only seven percent of southern Nevada’s water, while residents use 59 percent. And 99 percent of the water used inside Las Vegas resort buildings is replenished back into either Lake Mead or the Colorado River.
One resort chain’s practices serve as a good example of water conservation in Las Vegas: MGM Resorts International, which describes itself as a “Las Vegas anchored operation.” The company, which has properties all over the world, including Las Vegas, proves that water can be used sustainably in the driest of climates. It’s water conservation efforts have saved about 1.2 billion gallons of water.
Several of MGM’s properties are featured in its latest CSR report, including the Park, its most recent addition to the Las Vegas Strip. Completed in 2016, most of the resort’s water is supplied by an existing well. A closed-loop system is used to capture, filter and reuse the water flowing in the Park’s water sculptures. Drought tolerant plant species are planted as landscaping, including Agave, Yucca, Palo Verde, Acacia and Mesquites. Water flow is limited to those outdoor plants with the use of point-source drip irrigation and anemometers. These water conservation technologies result in 70 percent less water use. The water irrigation system alone results in 72 percent less water being used overall. The Park has earned LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The T-Mobile Arena also opened in 2016. It will host the NHL expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights. A 650,000 square foot, 20,000 seat LEED Gold certified venue for sports and entertainment, the Arena is designed with several water efficient technologies such as waterless urinals and low flow toilets that reduce indoor water by 40 percent. The exterior of the Arena features drought tolerant plants and drip irrigation systems, which reduce water use by 80 percent. An on-site well reduces the amount of water taken from the city’s water supply. And the Arena also features high-efficiency LED lighting to decrease energy use.
MGM decided to make its Las Vegas property the MGM Grand, the largest single hotel in the country, more water efficient. In 2016, the company removed 42,000 square feet of grass and replaced it with drought-tolerant plants and artificial turf. Two years prior, the resort increased its use of on-site well water to reduce dependence on water sourced from Lake Mead. All of its exterior irrigation and 60 percent of its cooling tower water needs are provided by well water. The MGM Grand’s water use from Lake Mead decreased by 21 million gallons.
Las Vegas and sustainability are two words that usually do not go hand-in-hand, but MGM proves that they are compatible. And in an arid place, water conservation is simply a must. Just ask MGM.
Photo: MGM Resorts
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.