I was surprised to find that the answer to this question appears to be a qualified yes. A 2008 study by the Lake Mead National Recreation Area recommended dumping wastewater from Las Vegas in the lake, as opposed to two other alternatives that would have been more costly in terms of dollars and environmental impact. Lake Mead, created by blockage from Hoover Dam, is one of Las Vegas’s sources of water. However, it’s not quite as simple as pumping sewage into the lake which immediately flows out of Las Vegas’s drinking taps. The wastewater would be pumped through a series of pipes 250 feet underwater, several miles offshore, and the point of distribution is actually downstream of the intakes for Las Vegas’s water system. Furthermore, water in a system such as Lake Mead is constantly being regenerated, both by natural processes and the normal water treatment process used by any big city to control its water quality. Given these factors the decision doesn’t seem quite as silly as it might appear at first blush. The desert environment of Las Vegas provides unfortunately few sources of water for a rapidly-growing urban area, so there aren’t a lot of places to get large amounts of water, and wastewater can’t just be dumped anywhere either.
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