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SOURCE Summer 2012

Putting a Roof Over Water Efficiency: Southern Nevada’s Water Smart Home Program By Toby Bickmore, Southern Nevada Water Authority and Kent Sovocool, Southern Nevada Water Authority Iwith the misperception that the majority major initiatives. First, local jurisdictions As an alternative to pursuing new plumbingin reviewing and adopting codes that affectpublic health and safety.To address burgeoning demand from newconstruction, SNWA spearheaded twot’s understandable that visitors to thefamous Las Vegas Strip may come away of the region’s water use is attributable to moved in unison to adopt development and mechanical codes, the SNWA collabo- resorts. The truth is that resorts command codes to limit the amount of lawn grass rated with area home builders to create just seven percent of the water deliveries, installed in new developments. Second, the Water Smart Homes (WSH) Program, while residential development accounts SNWA acted to create a water efficiency a voluntary program in which builders for nearly two-thirds of the water use. program for home builders, called Water equipped new homes with appliances, Among residential uses, the vast majority of Smart Home. plumbing fixtures, and landscapes that demand is attributable to detached single- Since landscaping policy was not based exceeded water efficiency requirements family homes. upon a national uniform code, changes of local and federal codes. The first Water As a frenzied economy drove construction limiting the use of turfgrass could be Smart Home was built in 2005, and over of as many as 30,000 homes per year in the quickly adopted through local action. By the ensuing seven years, nearly 9,000- early 2000s, the Southern Nevada Water the close of 2003, every local jurisdiction labeled homes have been built, making it Authority (SNWA) was challenged to create had adopted development codes that the largest and most successful new home a multi-faceted plan that would substan- prohibited front-yard turfgrass and limited water efficiency program in the nation. tially curtail water demand in response to backyard turfgrass for new homes. Making Initially, engineering estimates projected the most severe Colorado River drought in swift change to mechanical and plumbing that Water Smart Homes would save about recorded history. codes, however, was a more daunting chal- 75,000 gallons of water per year compared lenge due to the complex process involved 14 SOURCE summer 2012


SOURCE Summer 2012
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