Characterization and Evaluation of Wetlands in the Las Vegas Valley Watershed

Affiliation(s)PIProject periodFunded by
DHS Acharya, Kumud 03/01/2008 - 12/31/2009 Southern Nevada Water Authority

Project Description

Wetlands naturally filter and recharge the water and act like giant sponges, slowing the flow of surface water and reducing the impact of flooding. Wetlands also prevent soil erosion, and they buffer water bodies from potentially damaging land use activities such as effluent discharge, agriculture and urban runoff by removing many harmful nutrients and contaminants. Therefore, role of wetlands in water resource management especially in arid and semi arid regions can not be underestimated. There are several wetlands in the Las Vegas Valley some naturally formed and some constructed in various landscape positions with a variety of hydrologic, vegetation, and soil conditions. This project is aimed at comparing and contrasting the key characteristics of the various types of wetlands in the Las Vegas watershed to determine how well they function in the local setting and to provide management recommendations. For that purpose four wetland types have been identified for our study which are, a) City of Henderson Demonstration Wetlands; b) Pittman Wash Pilot Wetlands; c) Flamingo Wash Wetlands; and d) Pabco Road Weir Wetlands (upstream of Pabco Road Weir). All selected wetlands differ from each other in functionality and desired services, e.g., the City of Henderson Demonstration Wetland is a constructed effluent treatment wetland whereas Pittman Wash Pilot Wetland is a constructed urban runoff treatment wetland. Similarly, Flamingo Wash Wetland is an in-channel tributary wetland whereas Pabco Road Weir Wetland was created by backwater behind a Las Vegas Wash erosion control structure (Pabco Road Weir). The wide variation in these wetland characteristics offer an unique opportunity to compare treatment potential for a range of inputs. This will allow us to make management recommendations based on the feasibility of each wetland type and to determine under what conditions these wetlands are able to improve water quality for effective water resource management.