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MGM Resorts’ Landscaping and Irrigation Methods to Reduce Water Consumption

MGM Resorts codifies their commitment to water stewardship, action beyond compliance, and continuous improvement in water conservation and stewardship through “MGM Resorts Global Water Policy.” Additionally, MGM Resorts’ “Strategic Framework for Water Stewardship” includes five key principles and is a comprehensive framework covering aspects of physical water risks as well as regulatory and reputational risks. 

To help guide all their water management efforts, including irrigation and landscaping, MGM Resorts set a goal to reduce water withdrawal intensity by 30% by 2025. MGM Resorts met this goal in 2019 and enhanced their water target to 33% by 2025 and 35% by 2030. 

Water Withdrawal Analysis and Consumption Quantification

To help guide efforts to reduce water consumption, MGM Resorts worked with a third-party water expert on an analysis of water withdrawals and consumption for its Las Vegas resorts. 

This engagement aimed to identify key water usage drivers. A key finding of this analysis identified HVAC systems as consuming a significant portion of MGM Resorts’ consumptive water use followed by irrigation, pools, and water features. 

Water Savings Initiatives

MGM Resorts implemented the following water savings measures across its Las Vegas portfolio:

  • Established a dedicated Horticulture Team within the Facilities Center of Excellence that is led by a Director of Horticulture Operations.
  • Replaced over 200,000 square feet of grass with artificial turf and drought tolerant plants. Horticulture programs across the resorts utilize native and adapted plants to further reduce irrigation demand.
  • Installed irrigation central control systems to:
    • Monitor active weather data and evapotranspiration.
    • Remotely adjust irrigation schedules.
    • Monitor for major leaks.
  • Utilizes well water instead of municipal water (i.e., from Lake Mead) for selected uses such as Lake Bellagio and Shadow Creek Golf Course.

Bellagio Hotel & Casino

  • The Bellagio’s water fountains use on-site well and pool water from the Bellagio’s “O” Theater as source of water. These fountains are sub-metered, resulting in significant water savings by ensuring pools and other water bodies are not prematurely flushed, which could amount to thousands of gallons of water wasted.

Shadow Creek Golf Course

  • Installed drip irrigation on all trees to limit overhead irrigation sprinkler usage.
  • Installed soil surfactants to help retain water in the soil.
  • Installed soil sensors to monitor moisture levels to provide only the water that is necessary for plant survival.
  • Currently examining non-functional turf for additional alternatives to reduce the golf course’s water consumption.

Internal Organization:

Two divisions collaborate to lead MGM Resorts’ overall approach to water: Social Impact & Sustainability and MGM Resorts Design & Development (MRDD). MGM’s Chief People, Inclusion & Sustainability Officer, and President of Design & Development collaborate to champion progress toward interim and long-term water goals. They are also supported by an ESG Taskforce composed of executives from finance, investor relations, legal, risk, facilities, global procurement, and others.

As a part of MGM Resorts' “Focused on What Matters” philosophy, “Protecting the Planet” is one of three key pillars with water management being one of three core strategies within this pillar. Current priorities to improve water management center on:

  • Water-efficient equipment and appliances (including taps, toilets, dishwashers, showers, and sinks).
  • Smart water management (including sub-metering internal flows and intelligent landscaping).
  • Cooling tower and pool water management (including optimizing cycles of concentration in cooling towers, pool chemistry improvement, and backwash modulation in pools).

Lastly, MGM Resorts created the Horticulture Operations unit within the MRDD which focuses on reducing landscaping water consumption. This unit has a water conservation strategy that helps guide their work:

MGM water conservation strategy diagram

There is a dedicated energy and water budget within the overall capital budget for energy efficiency and water conservation projects. 

There were several education efforts taken to help educate staff and clients on the importance of reducing water usage:

  • A “Water Stewardship Communications Guide” was sent to senior leadership. This internal guide included a section on irrigation/horticulture water conservation.
  • An eCourse was developed on global water policy and the Water White Paper. The course was required for all management employees and received over 9,800 acknowledgements.
  • Staff filmed sustainability videos that have been used in marketing and shared with corporate clients. 

MGM Resorts evaluates their progress against their water target goals set to reduce water withdrawal intensity. In 2019, the organization met its initial goal of a 30% reduction in water withdrawal intensity by 2025. The goal was then increased to 33% by 2025 and 35% by 2030. 

MGM Resorts US Operations 

  • Between 2007 and 2022, landscaping and irrigation measures have contributed a significant portion MGM Resorts’ reduction in water use. In total, MGM Resorts has reduced and/or avoided water usage by 13.9 billion gallons cumulatively in its U.S. based operations.

  • To date, over 200,000 square feet of real grass have been replaced with water-efficient alternatives. The current and outstanding changes are expected to save approximately 9.4 million gallons of water (100% consumptive water use in the Las Vegas area).

Shadow Creek Golf Course

  • The installation of the drip irrigation system reduced water usage in low-maintenance areas by up to 30%.

Data Collection and Monitoring:

Effective water management requires a systems approach to understand water use in individual facilities and organizations. To enable utility-level visibility to facilities personnel, MGM Resorts utilizes a centrally managed database that captures utility invoice data and readily shows spend and volume trends.

In addition to utility-level reporting, systems-level metering is necessary to provide critical end-user data to identify additional areas of opportunity and water-use hotspots. MGM Resorts has conducted pilot submetering programs such as the pool monitoring project at the Bellagio. MGM Resorts is currently in the process of installing advanced submeters on the inflow and outflow points of all Las Vegas cooling tower banks to quantify evaporative water loss from cooling towers reliably. 

Risk Assessment Tools:

In 2022, MGM Resorts engaged an organization to conduct a detailed climate risk and opportunity assessment. The assessment utilized the World Resource Institute (WRI) Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas data and SNWA regional data. According to the WRI, in 2040, under a business-as-usual scenario, Las Vegas will experience a 1.2x decrease in water supply while water demand will remain normal.

A consumptive water quantification analysis was used to identify the contribution of irrigation to overall water use.