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What do Regina and Las Vegas have in common?

Regina's water originally comes from Lake Diefenbaker, a man-made reservoir created in 1967 by the Saskatchewan and federal governments, before going to the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant and eventually to the city's taps. (Cory Herperger/CBC News - image credit)
Regina's water originally comes from Lake Diefenbaker, a man-made reservoir created in 1967 by the Saskatchewan and federal governments, before going to the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant and eventually to the city's taps. (Cory Herperger/CBC News - image credit)

Regina and Las Vegas are drinking water from similar sources.

"I've heard that Regina and Las Vegas are the only two major cities not built on a natural water source," said Regina's Kyle Halvorson. "I wanna know if there's any truth to that."

Halvorson put his query to the new CBC podcast Good Question, Saskatchewan.

"There are a lot of similarities," said Michael Green, a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Both cities were built on land with next to no water, so nearby creeks were dammed to form artificial lakes that provide water to residents.

"Everything you see today [in Vegas], the volcano at The Mirage, the fountains at the Bellagio, the canals at the Venetian, the two and a quarter million people who live in the vicinity who, like me, drink water and shower and bathe in it and water desert plants with it, that water is coming from a man-made lake," said Green.

LISTEN | Why wasn't Regina built on a natural body of water?: 

People in Regina enjoy man-made Wascana Lake for sightseeing and non-motorized boating, but its not coming through resident's taps.

"Our drinking water comes from Buffalo Pound Lake and that water comes from Lake Diefenbaker," said Dave Sauchyn, director of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative.

Lake Diefenbaker is also man-made, having been filled in 1967. The water from Diefenbaker travels through an underground pipe to reach the taps of Regina residents.

Filling glass of water from stainless steel kitchen faucet.
Filling glass of water from stainless steel kitchen faucet.

Regina and Las Vegas both use drinking water from man-made reservoirs. (Elena Elisseeva / Shutterstock)

Saskatchewan historian Bill Waiser said Regina is the only capital city in Canada not built on a large natural body of water, a fact he said has elicited some ridicule.

"Even though they selected the place on Wascana Creek, it was not a reliable source of water." said Waiser, who referred to an old newspaper article that labelled the creek an "exaggerated ditch."

Historian Michael Green said Las Vegas is a prominent example of a city with no large body of natural water anywhere near it.

David Sauchyn said there are other examples, but it's rare.

"There has to be a source of water nearby and water is extremely heavy, so it was best to locate near the water," he said.