Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Throughout North America there is a growing interest in constructed wetlands, both as relatively inexpensive, low-maintenance systems for removing nutrients from wastewater, and as a means of using municipal wastewater to enhance wildlife habitat and create public use opportunities. Because wetlands appear to have good potential as a component in the overall management of scarce water resources, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has undertaken several cooperative research and demonstration projects to evaluate their effectiveness in a variety of local environments.

While a number of projects have demonstrated that wetlands can be beneficially employed to improve water quality, few such projects have been constructed in the Southwest. The potential for high evaporative loss of water or concentration of salts are special challenges facing wetland managers in this region. Reclamation is uniquely suited to investigate wetland functions peculiar to the desert Southwest because of its long history of research and project implementation to improve water quality and conserve water. The southern Nevada wetland project would complement similar cooperative Reclamation efforts underway in southern Arizona and southern California.

In southern Nevada, Reclamation has two major interests in wetlands: 1) from the point of view of how they might ultimately affect the water quality of Las Vegas Wash, Lake Mead, or the Colorado River system, and 2) as a model for the development of wastewater-based wetlands elsewhere in the arid West. Wetlands in the Las Vegas Valley could have multiple uses, including: eutrophication control through nutrient removal and storage, creation of valuable wildlife habitat in an desert environment, and as "green space" in an arid urban landscape.

Discussions with City of Las Vegas (City) staff make it clear that interest in these potential benefits is shared. Questions remain regarding the degree of treatment to be expected, of habitat sustainability, and of the consumptive use of water in constructed wetlands. In order to answer these questions, we are proposing to carry out a pilot scale study in cooperation with the City at the Water Pollution Control facility adjacent to Las Vegas Wash.


Artificial wetlands; Constructed wastewater treatment wetlands; Drinking water; Effluent quality; Engineered wetlands; Environmental quality; Las Vegas (Nev.); Reclamation of water; Wastewater wetlands


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Biology | Desert Ecology | Environmental Engineering | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Monitoring | Environmental Sciences | Fresh Water Studies | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology