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February 27, 2004
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022704 MORE WATER

PLASKON

INTRO: The Southern Nevada Water Authority yesterday declared it's water saving measures a success and amended the drought plan. It also approved steps to develop the state's water portfolio.

PLASKON: Southern Nevadans are tearing out lawns at the rate of one football field a day. That, in conjunction with shutting off fountains and misters and, eliminating residential car washing is responsible for reducing consumption by 2 percent even as the population rises at 5 percent according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority's General Manager Pat Mulroy. So she recommended that the public be rewarded for water conservation and be allowed to wash their cars once a week and enjoy misters again.

MULROY: The tremendous response that the community has shown in the drought measures. I mean the fact that we were ordering 330 thousand acre feet and ended up delivering less than 275 thousand speaks to the willingness of the community to make the necessary changes in response to the drought and that kind of significance in savings makes us comfortable that these kinds of changes are possible without doing any harm.

PLASKON: Ornamental fountains may also be turned back on if businesses remove some grass or pay a fee of 10 dollars per square foot of fountain. Now that the amendment to the drought plan has been approved each water district must also approve them. Clark County Commissioner Myrna Williams told Mulroy she fears public reaction.

WILLIAMS: I can wash my car now and I can run my fountains, I guess everything's okay. That's my big concern.

MULROY: I guess it will be up to us to make sure they know better than that.

PLASKON: Mulroy said the authority will ask for another 32 million dollars to continue public incentives to tear out lawns. The authority says the restrictions came on rather quickly because it had counted on Colorado River water lasting until 2008. When Southern Nevada ran out last year, it created some urgency to develop more in-state groundwater resources according to Kay Brothers, Deputy General Manager for engineering and operations.

BROTHERS: These in state resources have been identified for years in our plan. I think the drought showed us that we didn't have the time that we had, we see that we need to move forward as quickly as possible so that we have a cushion against future droughts so that is one reason I think we are moving forward.

PLASKON: So yesterday the board approved a concept plant for development of additional in-state water resources. It focuses on developing ground water in Clark County starting with drilling seven wells near Indian Springs and have water delivered from them within three years. Then it spreads out, pulling water out of the Virgin river and piping it 70 miles to Las Vegas to be complete in 6 years and finally laying 250 miles of pipes to draw in water from the border with Colorado. In all, Las Vegas will nearly double it's available water within ten years. Brother's says it'll come at a cost.

BROTHERS: I think this will probably raise our price of water in the future because it is expending financial resources to bring in additional water. That will be the source of many stakeholder meetings.

PLASKON: The spider web of water pipelines reaches up to highway 15 through Lincoln and White Pine Counties will take some compromise. According to SNWA Genera Manager, Pat Mulroy, the biggest issue is ensuring that Nevadans are comfortable with quenching Las Vegas's thirst by drawing water from other counties and towns . . . and doing it without sucking the life out of them.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

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