The Las Vegas Wash: A changing urban commons in a changing urban context

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property


The Las Vegas Wash, a 12-mile natural wash, provides the primary drainage for Las Vegas, NV, the fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S. Sewage is effluent from three treatment plants, groundwater drainage, and storm water travel through the wash to Lake Mead. The population of the drainage area has grown from a few led increased wash flow, from less than 1ft 3/sec to over 200ft 3/sec, and consequent ecological changes from a nearly dry wash to a rich wetland, and finally to an eroded and channelized system. As the wash ecosystem has changed, the valuation and use of the wash by valley residents has also changed. This paper discusses the links between urban development and ecosystem change in Las Vegas, focusing on the changes in the way residents have valued and managed the wash resources , and the institutional and organizational structures that have developed to manage the resources.


Drainage; Ecosystems; Nevada – Clark County Wetlands Park; Nevada – Las Vegas wash; Wetland management; Urban runoff


Desert Ecology | Other Environmental Sciences | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Urban Studies and Planning




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