Hitting the jackpot for Las Vegas’ water management

  • Since 2000, a drought has robbed the Las Vegas water supply of trillions of gallons.

  • Smart water management solutions can provide proactive means to detect and repair leaks before catastrophic losses occur.

  • AT&T's water management solutions are being tested in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Lake Mead provides up to 90 percent of Las Vegas’ water. Experts estimate that since 2000, an ongoing drought has robbed the lake of 4 trillion gallons1. Because they serve more than one million residents and 40 million tourists each year, it was imperative that the Las Vegas Valley Water District modernize its distribution system to bring it into the 21st century.  A combination of Colorado River water, groundwater, and water reuse systems makes meeting the daily water needs of Las Vegas possible. For Las Vegas, every drop counts.

As a progressive tech-adopter, the Las Vegas Valley Water District is participating in the NIST Global City Challenge to explore new ways to protect their precious resource. AT&T’s team accepted the challenge to implement a smart water management solution in the four mile stretch of pipes underneath the famous Las Vegas “strip.”

By placing sensors at both ends of the pipes, then one every half-mile in the middle, acoustical algorithms are used to pin point where leaks may exist. Wireless broadband networks send data collected by the sensors to a dash board, where utility workers will monitor the real-time status of the pipes.

This solution provides a proactive means to manage the water supply, which allows utilities to transition from a reactive state of scrambling to repair large water main breaks. With continuous monitoring, utilities can identify leaks early instead of realizing there’s an issue once the full system is struggling and, quite possibly, suffering a catastrophic event.

Since pipes are buried underground, “out of sight, out of mind” has been the standard management method. When a pipe suffers a large enough leak to put a strain on the whole system, it is noticed. A repair crew is brought in to make the necessary repairs and move on to the next leaky pipe. Smart solutions are proactive and permanent solutions.

AT&T’s team is running similar tests in Atlanta and Los Angeles, two others cities deploying “smart” technology for water management. Equipment has already been installed with data being collected and analyzed. Everyone is anxious to see what data is collected and how that data might be used to anticipate leaks in the system to save more water, one drop at a time.

Learn more about IoT Solutions from AT&T.


1To read, “Lake Mead is Shrinking and with it Las Vegas’ Water Supply,” click here.

This blog first appeared on the AT&T Citizenship & Sustainability blog.

Susan Diegelman Public Affairs Director AT&T About Susan