In their attempts to purchase water from nearby communities, Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) has paid as much as 10 times what it would presently cost to desalinate water! And that's just the tip of the water(grab)gate iceberg.
The Virgin Valley Water District (in Mesquite, Nevada) has witnessed their water prices skyrocket because Las Vegas wants their water. SNWA has paid as much as $9865 per acre/foot for Mesquite water!
Now, for those of you not familiar with the price of water in the West, that's astounding – 10, 20 times, even more from what it was just a few years ago. On the other hand, the cost of desalination has been dropping substantially.
Desalination presently costs as little as $1000 an acre/foot, approximately one tenth what SNWA has paid for other Nevada communities' water! And the technology for desalination just keeps improving. Desalination costs are still dropping, and are predicted to drop by far more (likely soon 70% cheaper).
SNWA's behavior just doesn't make any sense. At the price SNWA paid for Mesquite water, they could have desalinated water off the coast, and traded that water with California for more water out of the Colorado River. In fact, SNWA could have offered California twice the water SNWA would receive from the Colorado River, and it still would only cost SNWA one fifth what it cost to take Mesquite's water!
So why hasn't SNWA chosen the less environmentally damaging, rural community devastating, and cheaper option? Water(grab)gate.
If SNWA executives were to admit that they've wasted millions of Las Vegans' money on overpriced water, they wouldn't keep their jobs for long. So, they just keep pretending that they've made the right decisions. They just keep pretending that buying up other Nevada communities' water is the only option. This isn't just bad (and horrendously costly) management, its cannibalistic behavior to other Nevada communities.
Desalination, on the other hand, would mean more water for everyone in Nevada. Hence it would mean lower water prices for both Las Vegas and places like Mesquite. SNWA executives must know this by now. So why are they essentially driving prices up? Water(grab)gate. If SNWA pays almost $10,000 an acre/foot for water in Mesquite, they can charge the same for water they want for free from the Great Basin. The capacity of the watergrab pipeline is close to 200,000 acre/feet per year. That amounts to almost $2 BILLION a year! And who pays for this overpriced water? Actually, everyone in Nevada (and surrounding states) – because water prices will be driven up everywhere. They already have been. Just ask the Virgin Valley Water District. And while you're at it, you may want to ask how water(grab)gate has effected Mesquite's economy.