Las Vegas Sun

July 3, 2022

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Red Rock Canyon, Resort stops on water conservation tour

WaterSmart at Red Rock

Richard Brian

Lee Ann Haisch, a park maintenance employee from Fort Collins, Colo., looks at water pouring out from Willow Springs while on a tour at the Red Rock Conservation Area Friday. Haisch was on a tour organized by the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Expo.

Click to enlarge photo

Bob Tedesco, director of operations for Red Rock Casino, speaks to attendees of the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Expo during a tour of the casino Friday.

About a dozen people rode the rented bus to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on Friday. Like many tourists, they had been to Las Vegas many times before but had never seen the unique geologic features of the canyon, nor the plants and animals of the Mojave Desert.

But these tourists did not make the ride to climb on red rocks at Calico or hike the trail to Turtlehead. They wanted to see the elusive spring snail, prehistoric pictographs and other signs of life in an environment that receives about four inches of rain annually.

The visitors were scientists, professors and other professionals in fields pertaining to water conservation. The tour was part of the inaugural WaterSmart Innovations Conference, from Oct. 8-10, which attracted more than 1,000 water conservation experts, inventors, business owners and world leaders to share the latest water-efficiency technology.

“This is really amazing that people and plants have been living here for so long in an environment without water, without a lot of water,” said Michael Boles, a conservation representative with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District in Monterey, Calif.

Zane Marshall, an environmental expert with the conference organizer, Southern Nevada Water Authority, guided the tour that followed the scenic loop throughout Red Rock.

“All of these species have to deal with high radiant energy and low water, so all of these species that live in the Mojave Desert have strategies for dealing with the extreme environment,” he said. “For example, the desert tortoise ... spends most of its life underground.”

The tour led from the wildfire-scorched Joshua tree stumps to sun-drenched pools where representatives of the Red Rock Resort talked about efforts to conserve water while maintaining waterfalls, 18 pools and more than 800 hotel rooms.

About 60 percent of the water pumped into the resort is returned to Lake Mead, said Dave Gildersleeve, corporate director of facilities for Station Casinos.

In order to build the cascading waters that highlight the entrances to Red Rock, Station Casinos reduced water consumption at its other properties in ways such as removing grass from its Santa Fe Station and Green Valley Ranch resorts and replacing it with drought-tolerant desert landscaping.

Green Valley Ranch is partly owned by the Greenspun family, which also publishes the Home News and the Las Vegas Sun.

Station Casinos places cards in each hotel room asking its guests to reuse towels and sheets to reduce the water used to do laundry.

“When it comes to luxury hotels, it’s hard to charge guests to stay and then tell them they have to reuse their towels. So we let our guests make the decision,” said Bob Tedesco, director of operations. “Believe it or not, a lot of people will hang the towel up. They’ll pull the sheets back up on the bed with the card stating that they don’t need you.”

The company also installed drift eliminators on its cooling towers that recapture moisture the wind might otherwise blow away and sensors on the fountains that reduce the height of the water when the wind is blowing strong.

Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or [email protected].

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