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Water Smarts Podcast

Author: Southern Nevada Water Authority

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From the banks of the Colorado River and Lake Mead to the homes and businesses of Southern Nevada, the Water Smarts podcast covers how we treat, deliver, use, protect and conserve water in the Las Vegas Valley. Hosts Bronson Mack and Crystal Zuelke – along with experts from the Southern Nevada Water Authority who keep the water flowing – hope to make you a little smarter about the one thing that keeps us all connected – water.
11 Episodes
WaterStart serves as an innovation hub that brings water utilities and innovators together to test new technologies. From measuring arsenic in groundwater in real-time to finding leaks in the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s 6,500 miles of buried pipes, WaterStart innovators are helping the water industry use technology to solve the nagging challenges that keep utility staff up at night. SNWA Deputy General Manager of Operations Dave Johnson and WaterStart Executive Director Nate Allen share success stories and how WaterStart is supporting the testing and implementation of new technologies on episode 11 of the Water Smarts Podcast, “WaterStart – Finding innovative solutions to water industry challenges.” 
Currently, 40 percent of the Las Vegas Valley gets its water through the South Valley Lateral (SVL) transmission system. While the rest of Southern Nevada’s water transmission laterals have redundant facilities to ensure water delivery in the event of an emergency, the SVL is a single-feed system. In 2017, a leak in the pipeline required the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) to coordinate major repairs with the City of Henderson and Las Vegas Valley Water District to keep water flowing to customers. The SNWA is constructing the Horizon Lateral to work in tandem with the SVL to provide system redundancy and increase reliability to the south part of the valley. Doa Ross, SNWA Deputy General Manager of Engineering, and Adriana Ventimiglia, Senior Program Engineer, talk about the planning and construction of this massive infrastructure project and its impacts on the economy and jobs in Southern Nevada. 
Show Summary: There are more than 5,000 acres of useless grass in Southern Nevada that only gets used when someone runs a lawn mower over it. And while residential property owners have stepped up and removed grass from their yards through the Water Smarts Landscapes rebate, the majority of remaining non-functional turf is on commercial and HOA properties, medians, and streetscapes. Patrick Watson, Conservation Programs Administrator with the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), discusses why and how businesses, HOAs and multi-family properties can increase their conservation efforts through the SNWA’s cash incentives and programs. City of Henderson Conservation and Customer Care Supervisor Tina Chen also provides details about added financial incentives for business properties in Henderson.Recommended resources:Earn $3 a square foot for grass replaced with a Water Smart Landscape.Learn more about water-saving technologies and the Water Efficient Technologies rebate.Commercial properties can save water and money with our conservation programs for business.
Conservation is one of the most important actions Southern Nevadans can take to protect our limited water supply – particularly as we continue to weather a severe drought in the Colorado River basin. Toby Bickmore, Conservation Programs Administrator with the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), shares watering tips and how to get cash incentives for saving water in the Las Vegas Valley.  Recommended resources:Earn $3 a square foot for grass replaced with a Water Smart Landscape.Find tips on how to find a leak.Report water waste and help stop the flow.Get a Water Smart Car Wash coupon.
Every time Southern Nevadans flush the toilet, they’re helping scientists at the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWSA) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas study the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community. SNWA researchers Dan Gerrity and Katerina Papp talk about how they ensure the coronavirus is not in our drinking water supply, and how they can track a pandemic using raw sewage samples and wastewater surveillance on episode 7 of the Water Smarts podcast: “Poops don’t lie – Tracking a pandemic using wastewater.”  As our community recovers from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, SNWA’s wastewater epidemiology studies can help serve as an early warning system for future virus outbreaks and other community health issues.According to Dan and Katerina:When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, SNWA scientists worked fast to ensure the virus was not in our community’s drinking water, treated wastewater or source water—It wasn’t! They also began studying raw sewage to measure the concentration of the virus in the community.Wastewater epidemiology has been around for a few years, but it is an emerging field of study in tracking pandemics. Countries have tracked the prevalence of opioid use in a community, for example, using wastewater surveillance.As the pandemic recedes, wastewater surveillance can be used as a type of “early warning” system for future virus outbreaks. The research method also can determine the prevalence of influenza, illicit drugs and other public health issues that may be impacting a community. Recommended resources:Find out more about Southern Nevada water quality on how our water supply is tested and treated.Watch this SNWA Water Ways video about wastewater epidemiology. 
Protecting Southern Nevada’s water resources by preventing and stopping water waste is all in a day’s work for Summer Ortiz and Perry Kaye from the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s water waste team. Summer and Perry share tips on how to prevent water waste, and how to help stop it around your neighborhood on this episode of the Water Smarts podcast.   You can help protect our limited water supply by keeping water on your property, letting your neighbors know if they have an irrigation problem, and reporting water waste when you see it. According to Summer and Perry:Southern Nevada has a limited water supply AND is facing a severe drought. Stopping water waste is essential to protecting our water resources.Using the cycle-and-soak irrigation method to water grass helps reduce water waste by letting the hard ground soak up the water. Run sprinklers for three short cycles set one hour apart to help prevent water from flowing off your property into the street. Check your irrigation regularly to make sure you’re not letting water flow into the street. And, replace grass you don’t use with a water-efficient landscape. The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) offers a cash incentive for replacing water-thirsty grass through the Water Smart Landscapes rebate. Recommended resources:Find out more about water waste and how to report it on watering tips for grass and drip irrigation.Learn more about rebates to help you save water and money like the Water Smart Landscapes rebate, smart irrigation clock rebate and leak detection device rebate.
Show Summary: Where do Las Vegas casinos go after they’re imploded? Several of them have found a second life as material for erosion-control structures that help shore up the banks of the Las Vegas Wash, a 12-mile natural channel that plays an important role in Southern Nevada’s watershed. The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) and the Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee have worked for two decades to protect the Wash, which carries treated wastewater, storm water and urban runoff to Lake Mead, from which Southern Nevada draws its drinking water. Water Smarts host Bronson Mack and Crystal Zuelke share their favorite memories about Las Vegas hotels that have found a new purpose after their destruction. They’re joined by Keiba Crear, Manager of SNWA Environmental Monitoring and Management, who talks about the efforts to protect and restore the Las Vegas Wash and its surrounding wetlands. According to Keiba Crear:All of the water in Southern Nevada’s watershed flows down to the Las Vegas Wash. If you think about a bowl that’s tilted, the water from Las Vegas and surrounding areas all flows into the wash. “There are over 200 million gallons of water a day that pass through that 12-mile channel, making its way to Las Vegas Bay and ultimately into Lake Mead. And we all know, Lake Mead is our primary drinking water supply.” “But the one thing that’s a positive is that everything we’ve done over the past 20 years, these wetlands that have established out there are doing what they need to be doing. They’re acting like kidneys. They’re filtering and taking those contaminants out before it makes its way to our drinking water.” Recommended resources:Sign up for the Las Vegas Wash Green Up event at the Clark County Wetlands Park website to find directions and hours of operation.Learn more about wetlands and World Wetlands Day. 
 As Lake Mead water levels dropped due to drought, the two major water intakes pulling water from the lake for Southern Nevada were getting perilously close to the surface. Doa Ross, the deputy general manager of engineering for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), joins the Water Smarts podcast to talk about how SNWA engineered a solution and constructed a new intake deep below the lake’s surface and a pumping station to push water from the intake to the water treatment facilities located uphill.  Working together, Intake No. 3 and the Low Lake Level Pumping Station ensure the Las Vegas Valley will have access to its water supply – even if  lake levels drop so low, water cannot be drawn through Hoover Dam to produce power or deliver water to downstream users. Doa discusses the construction challenges of one of the largest drilling projects in the history of the United States, and how the two major construction projects give Southern Nevada an opportunity to partner with other states. According to Ross:“There is an elevation in Lake Mead that if the water drops below 900 feet, Hoover Dam can no longer take water through it to generate power or to even release water to Arizona, California and Mexico – the three continued users down the Colorado River. So we have ensured the ability to still receive water even if we get to a point where that water can no longer make it through Hoover Dam to the downstream users.” “We were very fortunate to be able to provide a solution to this drought with engineering and construction.”“We have to have the infrastructure prepared and ready and able to deliver water to our valley, our Southern Nevada residents and customers and even tourists continuously in a way that we’re not threatened by the drought.”Recommended resources:In 30 minutes, the Third Intake Documentary covers seven years of one of the world’s most challenging tunneling projects Learn more about SNWA’s Intake No. 3 and Low Lake Level Pumping Station.Save water and money with an SNWA Water Smart Car Wash coupon.
Las Vegas went 240 consecutive days without rain in 2020, and even for a renowned desert city that relies on the drought-stricken Colorado River, that’s quite a dry spell. Colby Pellegrino, deputy general manager of resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), joins the Water Smarts podcast to discuss how Southern Nevada is weathering the 20-year drought on the Colorado River, which supplies 90 percent of the Las Vegas Valley’s water supply. SNWA is ensuring a sustainable future through conservation, innovation and infrastructure as well as by pursuing partnerships with other river-sharing states to ensure Southern Nevada has a reliable water supply.According to Pellegrino:“This drought is pretty epic in terms of its length and severity.”“We’re continuing to work cooperatively with our partners on the river to manage drought, manage climate change, be responsible in the uses of the water and create new opportunities and innovative solutions where we can tackle the challenges of the river without having to disturb some of those fundamental agreements that created these river allocation agreements.”“I think conservation is the single most important thing that we can do today and in the foreseeable future to protect our water supply. It makes us more resilient.”Recommended resources:Find your mandatory seasonal watering group on useless grass and get cash back through the Water Smart Landscapes rebate.Help stop water waste!Learn more about how SNWA is addressing drought.
The director or water treatment and quality for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) joins the Water Smart podcast to discuss treatment processes that protect our tap water supply. Greg Kodweis explains how ozonation kills viruses like COVID-19; why our tap water tastes like it does; why tap water is better than bottled water; and how SNWA invests in world-class research to advance water treatment in the United States. Most importantly, he explores the many reasons we can all be confident in the tap water that comes out of the faucets in almost every home and business in Southern Nevada.According to Kodweis:“Within nature, ozone is created by lightening, and we’ve kind of duplicated that process here at our treatment plants. And one thing about ozone, it’ll kill and destroy bacteria about 3,200 times faster than chlorine.”“We go way above and beyond the requirements that any water agency would have. In fact, we have an entire department dedicated to working within the water community on researching different types of contaminants at very small levels.”“The most important thing to keep in mind is that taste is not an indicator of overall water safety.”Recommended resources:Find your water provider’s Water Quality Report on snwa.comGet the facts about how Southern Nevada’s water is tested and treatedRequest the Consumer Reports ® home water treatment system ratings Text the word CONSERVE to 85357 to get seasonal reminders to change your irrigation clock
Southern Nevada has cut its water use by billions of gallons every year through one of the most successful water conservation programs in the world. Doug Bennett, conservation manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, talks with the Water Smarts podcast about the community’s actions and the effort still needed to protect the Las Vegas Valley’s precious water resources. Doug shares why everybody has a stake in water conservation and how everyone can contribute.  According to Bennett: “We went from being a poster child for squanderous water use to literally being considered one of the world class water efficiency programs. And that’s a huge achievement that all Southern Nevadans should be proud of.” “Water fuels our bodies and it fuels our homes and our landscapes…it also fuels our livelihoods. We’re not saying ‘don’t use water’, we’re saying ‘Let’s use water as efficiently as we can’. Everybody can get behind that.”  “We need to fix some of the sins of the past here in Sin City. We put a crazy amount of grass in a lot of weird places, and now we’re helping to pay for some of the expense of having it removed.”Recommended resources:Find water-saving tips on snwa.comGet rid of water-thirsty grass through the Water Smart Landscape Rebate programFind beautiful, water smart plants with SNWA’s Plant Finder ToolGet a Water Smart Irrigation Controller Rebate
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