Last updated: 10:52 PM ET, Sat July 18 2015

MGM Resorts Says Vegas Properties Saved 2 Billion Gallons of Water

Hotel & Resort | MGM Resorts | Michael Isenbek | July 18, 2015

MGM Resorts Says Vegas Properties Saved 2 Billion Gallons of Water

Lavish displays of cascading water are a common sight on the Las Vegas Strip, but in light of Nevada’s four years of severe drought this may seem like a massive waste of a precious resource. But as the Associated Press reports, MGM Resorts International, owner of 15 properties on the Strip, asserts that the water is actually carefully conserved. 

Going before a Nevada Drought Forum panel on Friday, the AP said Chris Brophy, vice president of sustainability for MGM Resorts International, told the assemblage that since 2008, the company has saved two billion gallons of water, equal to how much flows over Niagara Falls in four hours.

Brophy provided examples to the drought panel, via the AP he said MGM’s Bellagio fountain show and Cirque du Soleil's indoor water-show "O'' use recycled well water and the outdoor wall of water at Aria resort wastes less than a residential pool.

Of the 15 properties on the strip, Brophy said via the AP that all of them combined use less water annually than the company's 52,000 employees, but MGM wouldn't say provide specific water use numbers.

Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, a California-based water research group was apparently not impressed. The AP said he feels the image of rampant water usage in Vegas may be giving the wrong impression to visitors.

"There is this disconnect between the reality of saving water and the fantasy that we don't have to," Gleick said. "But frankly, that's the job of Las Vegas, is to feed our fantasy, isn't it?

"If the Bellagio wanted to send the message that they were serious about water savings, they would drain the fountains," Gleick added.

MGM’s chief sustainability officer Cindy Ortega said in a statement that MGM "continues to aggressively introduce best practices" to "decrease our use of water and minimize our environmental impact." No word on draining fountains.

Las Vegas area resorts use 7.6 percent of southern Nevada's water according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Dale Devitt, director of the Center for Urban Water Conservation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas told the AP, "They use a lot of water, but I think they've made incredible strides to conserve," he said of the Vegas resorts. Also, the Strip can't just turn off the sprinklers to its golf courses or drain its pools.

"We are a resort destination," he said. "Our economy is based on that."

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