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Las Vegas limits size of home swimming pools amid extreme drought conditions

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A home with a swimming pool abuts the desert on the edge of the Las Vegas valley, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Henderson, Nev. Las Vegas area water officials have capped the size of new swimming pools, citing worries about supplies from the drying-up Lake Mead reservoir on the depleted Colorado River.

John Locher. Associated Press

To address extreme drought conditions in Nevada, Las Vegas and Clark County residents will now have to limit the size of their home swimming pools.

Clark County officials voted this week to limit new pools for single-family homes to 600 square feet, The Associated Press reported.

The change comes from concerns of diminishing water supply in the region from the Colorado River and a shrinking Lake Mead reservoir.

Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, has about 200,000 residential swimming pools in the area which holds about 2.4 million people. About 1,300 more pools are added each year.

Clark County Commission Chairman Jim Gibson voted for the pool size limit. “If the trends continue and the lake continues to decline, then this may be one of the least of the tough decisions that we’ll be making over the course of time,” he told the AP.

Commercial pools or pools in apartment buildings will not be affected.

The pool restriction is estimated to save about 3.2 million gallons of water in the first year, increasing to 32 million gallons saved by 2023, according to the AP.

Currently, about 75% of recently constructed pools are under the new size limit, John Entsminger, water authority general manager, told the AP. About 23,000 gallons of water evaporate a year from the average 470-square-foot pool.

Lake Mead, which sits behind Hoover Dam, provides about 90% of water to Las Vegas and is now below 30% capacity. The lake’s low capacity has raised concerns that water levels might impact the Hoover Dam’s ability to generate hydropower.

The Colorado River supplies water for millions of acres of land and more than 40 million people throughout Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Wyoming, Utah and Mexico. Many of these states are currently experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.