Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011 | 2:04 a.m.
We asked you what you thought about the Southern Nevada Water Authority's plans to draw water from rural Nevada. We received dozens of responses via website comments, emails and "snail mail." Here are a few of the letters we received.
State needs to invest in current resources
One industry in Nevada uses about 80 percent of the State’s total water supply. Not gaming. Not mining. Not construction. It’s agriculture. Meanwhile, the rest of the state has to make do with the remaining 20 percent. Is it too much to ask that the state invest enough of its remaining water resources to make sure Clark County residents can turn on the tap?
Jared Green, Las Vegas
Environmental laws unfair to Las Vegas
When Rome built aqueducts, it was viewed as an engineering marvel. Every major city imports water from somewhere else. New York does; Los Angeles does; Boston does; Atlanta does; San Francisco does; Phoenix does; Denver does; Salt Lake does; Albuquerque does; Reno does; Carson City does. The only difference between those places and Las Vegas is Las Vegas has to follow environmental laws none of those other places had to follow.
Mike Wagner, Las Vegas
There are alternatives to the ‘Water Grab’
The “Water Grab” issue is complex and heavily influenced by values, background, viewpoint, life experiences, understanding, etc. The Southern Nevada Water Authority sees its responsibility as delivering water to Southern Nevada in a way that will not slow, inhibit or jeopardize growth. I see our history of growth as a series of boom-and-bust cycles that damage our economy, environment and society. From my perspective, business as usual destroys our environmental support system as well as our financial support system.
In August we learned about a “worst-case scenario” that put the cost at about $7.3 billion, plus $8 billion in interest. We continue to hear assertions from SNWA that there is no economically/politically available alternative.
Five or more years ago, I had an interesting conversation with Walter Johnson (retired chief operator of the Clark County waste treatment plant). He and Dr. Jacimaria Batista at UNLV calculated that an “Indirect Potable Water Reuse” system would be cheaper and produce more potable water than the combined Water Grab/Clean Water Coalition projects. It would also improve water quality in Las Vegas and in the lower Colorado River.
Since then, the Pacific Institute has published studies demonstrating this kind of system is cheaper than desalination. CWC has just been disbanded. It’s time to do the same for the Water Grab!
Jim Deacon, Henderson
The author is emeritus distinguished professor of environmental studies at UNLV.
Buying water would be a better approach
Another 100,000 acre-feet per year is needed for the future of Nevada, according to the SNWA, to be provided by a pipeline to Northern Nevada that will inevitably impact the communities of the region.
What I haven’t seen is the breakdown of the cost of the pipeline in terms of acre-feet per year for the residents of Southern Nevada. Let’s say the cost of the pipeline is $7.5 billion (including interest), and to make the math simple, let’s divide the cost of the water over a period of 20 years, and that Southern Nevada would start pumping 100,000 acre-feet per year when the pipeline is completed. The cost per acre-foot would be $3,750 per year for 20 years.
Instead, Southern Nevada could set aside $1 billion to purchase water from California or Arizona, and maybe some upstream states. That $1 billion would earn interest which would pay for Southern Nevada’s yearly purchase of 100,000 acre-feet. Even if Nevada paid the incredible sum of $1,000 per acre-foot per year, that amount would never exceed $100 million a year.
My suggestion is that Southern Nevada should explore the process of buying the water it needs from others that are willing to sell it at the right price, before building a pipeline of unknown cost with unknown consequences for Northern Nevada.
John S. Rogers, Las Vegas