Modeling of nonpoint source pollution in the Las Vegas Valley

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The point sources of pollution (including wastewater treatment plants) within urban areas are well known. However, the contribution of nonpoint source pollution to receiving waterbodies is not as well understood. In this study, the contributions of nonpoint source runoff is evaluated and compared to the loadings from the wastewater treatment facilities in the Las Vegas Valley of southern Nevada. The entire Las Vegas Valley watershed (approximately 2300 square miles) drains to Lake Mead on the Colorado River. Lake Mead is also the main source of drinking water for Las Vegas. Thus, any runoff generated from the Las Vegas Valley could potentially have adverse impact to this drinking water source. A GIS grid based model is developed to calculate total annual nonpoint nutrients and total solid loads from the Las Vegas Valley. The watershed is subdivided and loads are estimated for all land uses. GIS is used to calculate these loads for each grid cell and then ArcView GIS tools are used to track the accumulation of pollutant loads in the storm channel network. This study uses current data obtained from Clark County GIS Management Office and Clark County Regional Flood Control District. The results of this study will assist local and State agencies in developing Total Maximum Daily Loads for the Las Vegas Wash and provide a better understanding of nonpoint source pollution.


Lake Mead; Las Vegas Valley; Runoff and streamflow; Surface water quality; Urban water pollution


Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Sciences | Fresh Water Studies


Presented at the American Geophysical Union, 2001 Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, December 10-14.


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