Desert Ramparts: Defending Las Vegas from the Flood

5103 F1 Debris Basin, Las Vegas, Nevada. CLUI photo.Las Vegas, the nation’s supreme desert city, lies in a riverless valley, baking in the sun. When it rains, storms can be sudden and strong, generating flash floods that threaten the city. Defense against this attack has grown with the expanding urban land itself, and there are now more than 100 detention basins in and around Las Vegas to absorb the shock of flood, and hundreds of miles of concrete channels to contain the flow through the city. The headworks of this system are a battery of bulwarks that ring the city at its outermost edge, beyond which little is built. They are massive marginal sculptures of aridity and stasis, waiting for the flood.