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Water Grab: Nevada's Internal Battle for Water
Water Grab: Nevada's Internal Battle for Water

AIR DATE: September 8, 2011

Nevadans are wrapped in a battle for the one thing Nevadans and people in the southwest have been fighting for the last century and a half - water.  The Southern Nevada Water Authority continues to push their plans to build a 300 mile pipeline to the Great Basin National Park and pipe that water to southern Nevada.  Opponents have been gathering and entrenching themselves for a fight.  Is Las Vegas' survival more important than protecting water supplies in rural Nevada?

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I used to live in the Owens Valley. It is 200 miles due west of Las Vegas. L. A. Dept. of Water And Power built an aquaduct over 200 miles long and created one of the worst dust polution sources known,Owens dry lake.There are many books documenting the treachury L. A. went through to procure the water.I see the same thing developing here in Las Vegas. The metropolitan water district will do what ever it takes to get this pipeline. Even illegaly if all else fails. Las Vegans should want to keep our surrounding deserts in pristine conditions. Not turn them into dust bowls. As far as growth goes I for one don't need any more of it!!!!! Lets protect our open spaces. No pipeline for me!
Terence OviattOct 25, 2011 15:35:34 PM
I would say that the comments by Patty Dominguez, and several others here, sums things up very well: SNWA proposes to spend $15 billion ...and then some...because of a massive failure of the political will to resolve water issues in a responsible and sustainable fashion. Have we really learned absolutely nothing from the track record of decades of benighted water policy documented in books like CADILLAC DESERT and UNQUENCHABLE ?! This is another very expensive and hugely intrusive project rife with the potential for unintended consequences of which there are many examples around us in the West...let alone elsewhere. We all should be paying very close attention to this plan and with a great deal of skepticism. We are being stampeded into this with hysterical hyperbole of dire consequences such as the obvious nonsense about The Strip drying up and blowing away (much more likely to happen as a result of cultural and economic changes in the world around us!!). If we continue on path of growth for growth's sake... and look where that has gotten us...rather than sustainability within the environment in which we live, not even this boondoggle of a water project will save us.
dave hamiltonSep 7, 2011 13:28:49 PM
This is not an easy issue, nor should it be. The pipeline is not the only solution, in fact I think it is the most devestating choice. The laws & rules that govern the west have always been geared towards production and growth first & foremost. They were made to support development, for development's sake. We need to re-examine our priorities, our laws, & how we are going to balance what we have with what we want, & what we need. This is a serious issue & the answers should hurt. I live in LV, but I was born & raised in the southwest desert, & I agree with Hank, actions speak louder than words. Just because there is no 'intent' to harm doesn't make it ok; intent & reality often have very different outcomes --even going in. The Dam was built on the Colorado to support the development in So. California, first & foremost. What the LV Valley received was always secondary; a fraction of the outcome for a fraction of the population. The Dam was the cheapest & easy solution to support their wants & needs, but times & needs change. Maybe someone with power should force the Government & So. Californiato reopen & re-examine agreements made in a different world, with different priorities.
Patty DominguezSep 7, 2011 12:01:52 PM
Harry Breen stated that some of the ranching families had lived in the water grab valleys for a hundred years. He, like the Southern Nevada Water Authority, ignore my family and many other Native families who have lived here for perhaps 10,000 years. SNWA also ignores Tribal Water Rights (Winters Doctrine) and the water rights of my brothers, the wild animals. So too does the State of Nevada ignore Tribal Water Rights. Nevada Tribes have been using the disputed water for 10,000 YEARS! What about "First in use, First in Right"?
Delaine SpilsburySep 7, 2011 11:40:04 AM
I agree with you Delaine. Sustainability and the real success of society is measured in thousands of years and more, not in dollars or decades. There is so much we can learn from indigenous cultures if we could only be silent long enough to truly listen.
Steve RypkaSep 7, 2011 16:11:23 PM
This isn't really about water. This is about money. Las Vegans are being conned into paying billions for water for people who don't live in Nevada yet. These tactics are straight out of the movie "Chinatown." Land speculators will benefit at the expense of the public. And so will construction companies - who will undoubtedly have cost overruns. And how will SNWA pay for these cost overruns? By borrowing even more money. The banks will make out like bandits. This "municipal development" con is happening all over the country - and it's driving dozens of communities into overwhelming debt load. The cost of desalinization has dropped precipitously. Desalination facilities can be built incrementally, as needed - instead of this giant project (that is useless until it is finished). But that doesn't matter. SNWA has already committed hundreds of millions of dollars - and for political reasons, they can't back down now.
Rick SpilsburySep 7, 2011 11:18:19 AM
The water lawyer on this broadcast is absolutely correct. The proponents of this project are grossly exaggerating the lack of water available to southern Nevadans in the Colorado River Basin. This $15 BILLION boondoggle is nothing more than a public subsidy to developers who want to build more homes and strip malls. The casino industry uses about 7% of our community's water resources and they serve about 40 million guests a year. SNWA needs to get serious about water conservation for the 1.8 million residents in southern Nevada and stop trying to steal eastern Nevada's water.
Scot RutledgeSep 7, 2011 11:06:48 AM
Las Vegans must learn to live within our means. The pipeline is like a toxic sub-prime loan. It defers the reality of unsustainable growth on to the shoulders of future generations. They will pay the price when the water mines go dry for good and the city is even bigger than it is now. We cannot engineer our way out of the fact that we live in the Mojave Desert. The pipeline is simply a moral mistake.
Steve RypkaSep 7, 2011 10:51:54 AM
The ecologist says that the pipeline cost is too high and proposes options such as desalination which would require a desalination plant and pipeline from the Pacific to Las Vegas. That would cost a great deal more than the pipeline to northeastern Nevada and, in all likelyhood, produce less acre feet per day. David Aris
David ArisSep 7, 2011 10:46:16 AM
The Southern Nevada Water Authority, a public agency,using public dollars to build a project on public lands, continues to employ stipulated agreements to try and silent protests from other public agencies, such as the Nevada Department of Wildlife. It is not fair that these agencies are told by SNWA to drop their protests or be denied the opportunity to influence monitoring and/or mitigation of this public project. Will SNWA commit to ending this process of quieting other public agencies and simply allow the process to unfold in as public and transparent a way as possible?
Scot RutledgeSep 7, 2011 10:36:21 AM
This project is based on 2 false premises: 1) That there is a lack of water in the Colorado River (due to a long-term drought) and 2) That no alternatives exist. The Colorado River has an average flow of 7-8 million acre feet per year and the lowest flow ever is 5 million ac ft. There is no way that the River would not have enough water to supply the 300,000 ac ft per year (or even double that) that Las Vegas requires. There are many alternatives, some of which have already been implemented (e.g., the 180,000 ac ft that we dump back into Lake Mead has been made available to Las Vegas). For example, modern irrigation techniques could be implemented on farms that use the bulk of Colorado River water; a charge could be placed on all water taken from the River by all users, the River law could be changed. This is a problem of political will, not real water shortage.
Ed UehlingSep 7, 2011 10:30:56 AM
If the outlying areas are comfortable with taking taxes reallocated to them from Las Vegas & Clark County, then perhaps they ought to find a way to feel more comfortable with keeping their "golden goose" well-watered & healthy?
Kim HarperSep 7, 2011 10:20:45 AM
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