Bellagio Fountains Aren’t Sipping City Supply

Arina P Habich |

Arina P Habich |

Why is our weather so schizophrenic? One day it’s a T-shirt and a margarita; the next I need a coat and a fireplace.

Blame the wind. Despite Las Vegas being spoiled by a ridiculously mild winter, some Rocky Mountain areas remain cold as ice. When the northeastern wind hits the high desert, it chases out the warmth, resulting in some 30 degree swings from day to day. But really, is that anything to complain about? Pretty soon it’ll be 110 every day. Then you can whine.

Still All Wet

My recent column about water conservation in Las Vegas prompted a spate of friendly (and some less so) queries and comments from readers, including: “Do any Las Vegas homes still have private wells?” “Where does the Bellagio get its water for the fountain show?” And “Whatever happened to the canals that were supposed to be Downtown?”

Back in the day, when central Las Vegas still boasted vast horse properties just a skip from Fremont Street, many homes sunk private groundwater wells. Thousands remain, dribbling a maximum of 1,800 gallons of the hard stuff a day to homes that remain purposefully disconnected from the city water supply.

Similarly, while it may not seem “Water Smart!” in the face of residential watering restrictions, the Bellagio’s 22-million gallon Strip-side fountain attraction Lake Como is fed by the resort’s own on-site well. That same well once fed the Dunes golf course, and the fountains reportedly use far less water. Similarly, the Encore golf course (in Old Vegas parlance, the Desert Inn Country Club) uses “non-potable well water” according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Steve Wynn, who built both resorts, has a thing for water. It was he who proposed in 1991 (as owner of the Golden Nugget) that Downtown casinos band together and build a series of gondola-laden canals around the Downtown casino area. His initial plan was to ask for more water from the Colorado River, but outcry from ranchers and activist groups scuttled that. Later, the plan morphed into building a treatment plant and using reclaimed water to fill the canals. This maverick idea to draw Strip tourists back to Downtown made waves but never gained traction. Instead, the Fremont Street Experience was born, Wynn secured his own water rights at the Dunes, and Sheldon Adelson built the Venetian. Viva Las Venice!