The Vegas Paradox

In Sin City, excess and efficiency walk hand-in-hand.

  • Thirty-nine million people visit Las Vegas each year, drawn by its grand facsimiles of life elsewhere, and by the constant promise that anything can happen.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Tourists take photos near a fountain at Caesar's Palace along the Strip.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Long derided as the over-the-top desert city that shouldn't exist, Las Vegas is trying to become more water-efficient. Las Vegas Valley Water Authority water waste investigator Neil Bailey videotapes as water from a south Las Vegas lawn irrigation system flows onto the street, a violation.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Las Vegas Valley Water Authority water waste investigator Neil Bailey checks if a home violating lawn irrigation rules has been ticketed before.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Slot gambling on the Strip.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Tourists watch a light show set to music in the Fremont Street Experience, a roofed pedestrian corridor in Las Vegas. With its overhead screen of 12.5 million LED lamps, the spectacle is at the center of the city's downtown revival efforts.

    Andrew Cullen
  • A party plays craps on the Strip.

    Andrew Cullen
  • The Mirage Hotel and Casino's volcano show.

    Andrew Cullen
  • A luxury room in the LEED Silver certified Palazzo Hotel, featuring energy-efficient LED lights custom made for the resort.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Mannequins in a luxury-goods store.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Caesar's Palace behind the Bellagio's famous fountain, which uses recycled water.

    Andrew Cullen
  • In a bid for energy efficiency, the new City Hall is fronted by a forest-like solar array and a xeriscaped garden.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Xeriscaped yards sit next to traditional grass lawns in Monarch Estates, a gated community in southern Las Vegas where inspectors encounter "habitual" violations of irrigation rules.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Las Vegas Valley Water Authority technician Don Bryant listens for signs of leaking water mains.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Mansions in the mountains at the edge of Henderson, Nevada, a Las Vegas suburb, near where treated-wastewater flows down the Las Vegas Wash toward Lake Mead.

    Andrew Cullen
  • Treated wastewater enters the Las Vegas Wash, heading for Lake Mead. The city gets a credit for wastewater that returns to the reservoir, essentially allowing it to pump and use more water from the Colorado River than its allotment.

    Andrew Cullen
  • The Las Vegas Wash was once a seasonal arroyo, but now runs year-round as treated wastewater from the Las Vegas metro area flows back to Lake Mead. Revegetation projects have encouraged bird and animal life along the apparently healthy waterway.

    Andrew Cullen