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Water Smarts podcast

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.

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HOT! HOT! HOT! Water-smart tips to help your landscape survive the summer

Episode 26 - July 11, 2022

Lake Mead's water levels are at historic lows and the Colorado River is suffering from a decades-long megadrought, resulting in federal shortage declarations that have reduced Southern Nevada's water supply. Since residential landscape irrigation consumes the majority of the Las Vegas Valley's water, watering smart has never been more important. Doug Bennett, the Conservation Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, shares tips to help residents set their irrigation systems so that their landscapes survive and thrive during our harsh desert summer.


Yes, you can drink the tap water!

Episode 25 - May 17, 2022

How do you know your tap water is safe to drink? Carolyn Faircloth, the Water Quality Laboratory Manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), shares how she and her team test and monitor our drinking water to ensure high-quality water is delivered to your home or business every day.


AH HA! How the pandemic led to new insights for wastewater surveillance

Episode 24 - April 26, 2022

Scientists have been using sewage to track COVID-19 in the community throughout the pandemic, and even now as the virus enters the endemic stage. Using wastewater surveillance helps scientists determine the prevalence of the virus and what variants are present in the Las Vegas Valley. We talk with Dr. Dan Gerrity, Principal Research Laboratory Scientist for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), and Dr. Edwin Oh, UNLV Associate Professor of Neurogenetics and Precision Medicine Lab, about how their wastewater surveillance research helped health professionals and elected officials during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two researchers share their "ah ha!" moments and the future of wastewater surveillance.


SPRING ALIVE! Garden and landscape tips from Star Nursery's Dr. Q and Joey Lynn Watt

Episode 23 - March 31, 2022

Spring is the season for renewal, and the time when many of us get our hands dirty and spruce up our yards. On this episode, we talk with Star Nursery experts Dr. Q and Joey Lynn Watt about how to irrigate, prune, fertilize and get rid of garden pests.


Southern Nevada is planning for a warmer, drier future

Episode 22 - March 9, 2022

The permanent aridification of the Colorado River—the source of 90 percent of Southern Nevada's water supply—means much less water will flow into Lake Mead in the future. The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) recently updated its Water Resource Plan to address aridification and other major impacts to the Las Vegas Valley water supply. We talk with Zane Marshall, SNWA Director of Water Resources, about what this means for Southern Nevada and how everyone in the community can help protect our water supply.


HERBA NON GRATA: Groundbreaking law requires businesses replace decorative grass

Episode 21 - Feb. 10, 2022

Shortage conditions on the Colorado River have reduced Southern Nevada’s water supply by about 7 billion gallons. While homeowners have worked hard to conserve water and remove water-thirsty grass, the business community is lagging behind in this effort. We talk with JC Davis, Enterprise Conservation Manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, about a new law requiring businesses, HOAs and multifamily properties to stop irrigating nonfunctional turf with Colorado River water by the end of 2026.


FROM LAKE TO TAP: Delivering water through a world-class system

Episode 20 - Jan. 27, 2022

Southern Nevada’s water system operates 24 hours a day, every day, treating and delivering water that is pumped through nearly 4,000 feet of elevation changes in order to serve more than 2 million people in the Las Vegas Valley. The Water Authority pulls water from deep below Lake Mead, treats it, and pumps it to the member agencies, which then deliver it to homes and businesses. Join our hosts Bronson Mack and Crystal Zuelke as they talk with Director of Operations Ken Albright and find out why you can count on water coming out of your tap.


DOWN THE DRAIN AND BACK AGAIN: Wastewater plays important role in Southern Nevada’s water cycle

Episode 19 - Nov. 17, 2021

Southern Nevada recycles 100 percent of the water it uses indoors—extending our limited water supply. For every gallon treated and returned to Lake Mead, we can pull another gallon out of the lake. Kim Adler, Assistant Manager at the Clark County Water Reclamation District, talks about how the "unseen utility" plays a high-profile role in treating and reusing Colorado River water in the valley and provides tips for holiday cooking cleanup.


Trees for tomorrow: Protecting Las Vegas' urban forest

Episode 18 - Nov. 3, 2021

Las Vegas is the fastest warming city in the United States and as temperatures rise, the city's urban forest of plants and trees will need to weather hotter, drier conditions. Doug Bennett, Conservation Manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, discusses how we can protect our tree canopy and plan for tree succession to help protect the valley's urban forest, which is essential to helping reduce urban heat island impacts.


Clark County is ALL IN on building a resilient, sustainable community

Episode 17 - Oct. 7, 2021

Clark County is developing its first sustainability and climate action plan. The All-In Clark County plan focuses on enhancing quality of life, protecting our natural resources and diversifying our economy. Las Vegas is the fastest warming city in the nation, and the impacts of climate change are threatening our water and energy resources and creating other challenges for Southern Nevada. Marci Henson, Clark County’s Director of Environment and Sustainability, discusses the challenges posed by climate change and how the county is preparing.


Warm Springs Natural Area: Playing a role in our water resource story and history

Episode 16 - Sept. 21, 2021

Located an hour north of Las Vegas, the Warm Springs Natural Area (WSNA) is an oasis in the Mojave Desert that has provided shelter to people and wildlife for centuries. The site has more than two dozen springs that feed into the Muddy River, which flows into Lake Mead. The WSNA is home to 28 endangered, threatened and sensitive species, including the Moapa dace species, which is found nowhere else in the world but in the WSNA’s warm, spring-fed waters. Zane Marshall, the director of Water Resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), talks about why the springs are an important part of Southern Nevada’s watershed, what SNWA is doing to protect the area, and how biologists protect the tiny Moapa dace to ensure their population health.


BUSINESS FACELIFT: Older properties get a refresh through the Water Smart Landscapes rebate

Episode 15 - Sept. 7, 2021

Replacing old, splotchy grass at mature properties can provide a facelift and improve customers’ first impression of a business, according to Katherine Harper, a property manager for Gatski Commercial Real Estate. Harper talks about how grass wastes water and money in addition to making a property look old and tired. She has helped several of her clients refresh their properties by upgrading their landscapes to an attractive water-smart alternative. Not only have her clients improved the aesthetics of their properties, but they also are realizing cost savings from lower water bills and landscape maintenance costs. Doug Bennett, the Conservation Manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, joins the conversation to explain how the Water Smart Landscapes rebate can help pay for most, if not all, of the conversion projects.


Nevada responds to first ever federally-declared shortage on the Colorado River

Episode 14 - Aug. 16, 2021

Climate change-fueled drought conditions have led the federal government to issue a water shortage declaration on the Colorado River, a move that will reduce the amount of water Southern Nevada will be allowed to withdraw from Lake Mead beginning in January 2022. Combined with existing water reductions outlined in the Drought Contingency Plan, the declared shortage will cut Southern Nevada’s annual water allocation by nearly 7 billion gallons of water next year – enough to serve more than 40,000 Las Vegas Valley households for a year. Colby Pellegrino, Deputy General Manager of Resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, joins the Water Smarts Podcast to discuss how Nevada is responding to the first ever federally-declared shortage on the Colorado River.


From trees to housing - City of Las Vegas plans for a sustainable future

Episode 13 - Aug. 9, 2021

The City of Las Vegas is world renowned as the Entertainment Capital of the World, but did you know it also is leading the way in creating a sustainable future through its Master Plan 2050? Las Vegas planning expert Marco Velotta joins hosts Bronson Mack and Crystal Zuelke to talk about how Las Vegas is addressing water, energy and climate change issues and ensuring that the city continues to thrive well into the future.


GET OFF YOUR GRASS! New law aims to replace decorative grass in Southern Nevada by 2026

Episode 12 - July 22, 2021

The Nevada Governor recently signed into law Assembly Bill 356 (AB356), which prohibits the use of Colorado River water to irrigate decorative, useless grass in streetscapes, medians, parking lots and other areas where it is used for aesthetics and not recreational purposes by the end of 2026. The law helps the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) advance its conservation goals by essentially requiring this grass to be replaced with water-smart landscapes. SNWA Deputy General Manager of Resources Colby Pellegrino joins the Water Smarts podcast to explain how the new law will help protect 10 percent of Southern Nevada’s Colorado River supply and what properties are targeted. Nevada State Assemblyman Howard Watts and Nevada State Senator Fabian Donate talk about why this new law had broad, bipartisan support and what it means for Nevada.


Finding innovative solutions to water industry challenges

Episode 11 - June 8, 2021

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.