FOCUS; In Las Vegas, Water Rules Dictate Growth

by Mike Henle

Originally published in New York Times Feb 16 1992

In the mid-80’s a Las Vegas development team offered a new concept for southern Nevada — a community of houses built around 32 acres of manmade finger lakes on the western edge of the city. Even in Las Vegas, where showmanship and extravagant gestures are commonplace, the idea was exciting.

The Lakes, as the project was called, became a hot-selling community, with residents fishing and boating in an area nature had designed for rattlesnakes and lizards.

But more water-oriented communities are not in this region’s future. After the current ones are built, authorities will no longer grant permission for others.

The reason is that the overuse of water has become a worry. In fact, local officials became so concerned that 11 months ago the Las Vegas Valley Water District halted all commitment to future development, although many builders had commitments already locked in. Builders are awaiting word on when commitments granting the right to use water will be issued again, and the president of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, Randy Schaefer, hopes action will be taken in the next 30 days.

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