Big swimming pools will be banned in Las Vegas soon, one of many last-ditch efforts to save the Colorado River.

Las Vegas, and most of the American southwest, is on the shore of a severe water crisis. Lake Mead, the reservoir above Hoover Dam, is the lowest it’s been since it was made. If the water continues to deplete at current rates, in less than three years, Hoover will no longer have a spillway, causing a power crisis that will affect 8 states and over 40 million people. The Colorado River below the dam will cease to exist.

Most of the water being taken from the Colorado is for irrigation of agricultural and pastoral land, but that’s never stopped politicians from trying to preach that private individual waste is driving the shortage.

Clark County which is mostly just Las Vegas and a lot of desert, has an estimated 200,000 residential swimming pools, with an estimated 1,300 new ones built a year. County officials voted this week to put a hard limit on those new pools. Going forward, residential swimming pools can have a maximum of 600 square feet surface area, or approximately the size of a three-car garage.

According to pool installers, about 1 in 4 new pools are over the new limit. Those violating the rule after September 1st will be denied water service until the oversize pool is removed or redesigned.

The cap will not affect commercial swimming pools, to the relief of all those Las Vegas hotels.

Pool industry speakers argued that people wanting big swimming pools – big enough for laps or diving, for instance, should be allowed to pay a fee to have them, but officials were clear in their tone – this wasn’t going to be a rule with a carve-out for the wealthy.

Golf courses, of course, use more water individually than the collective 200,000 Clark County private pools, and Clark County continues to allow more than 70 of those to water acres of invasive species every day and night.

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