Sunday, March 28, 2010

No Pie For Tomorrow

Sometimes people are their own worst enemies. During the good times, they act like the party will never end, no matter how irresponsible they are. And during the bad times; they assume that all they have to do is get back to the way things were.

Take for instance Las Vegas' bubble-headed attitude about growth. When Las Vegas' economy seemed like it would grow forever, Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) bought over-priced water rights hundreds of miles away (watergrab-gate). Now that there is a recession (like that couldn't have been predicted to someday happen), SNWA still wants to build a multi-billion dollar pipeline to these water resources (which they don't need now). Though SNWA won't admit it any more, they're still assuming that Southern Nevada will go right back to growing like a virus – as soon as they can figure out how to make time go back.

A new survey by UNLV researchers has found that 40% of Las Vegas Valley residents want to leave Nevada! Things are that bad in Vegas. And they're likely get even worse if California legalizes marijuana – which just might happen in the election this Fall. For if Californian Indian casinos can offer a legal vice that Nevada casinos can't, it is quite likely that millions of tourists will go to California Indian casinos instead. There is a real risk that the recession in Las Vegas could get even worse.

Las Vegas is in denial, and SNWA has helped to make things worse. By blowing almost 80 million dollars on White Pine County ranches, they depleted their assets, and consequently had to raise rates – during the recession. This, of course, isn't the main reason 40% of Las Vegans want to leave the state; but watergrab-gate has significantly contributed to Las Vegas' woes. It didn't have to be this way.

What we all really need is a Nevada water law that supports responsible use. In a nutshell, Nevada water law is; “first in use, first in right” – which in the real world translates to; the first to waste the water gets it for free. This is no way to manage water in the desert! Let's face it. Las Vegas HAD to apply for those water rights. If they hadn't, some one else would have. On the other hand, if Las Vegas would have pressed for more responsible water law, they wouldn't have been in the predicament they are now.

Personally, I wouldn't mind Las Vegas having limited long-term water rights to Rural Nevada water, if... IF these water rights were for legitimate long-term storage – and didn't curtail Rural Nevada population growth. Presently, there is NO State legislation to arrange for future water use. The reality is; Nevada water law was written by selfish big water users who merely chose to slice up the pie. Responsible water law should save a slice for the future. We don't want to be our own worst enemies... again.

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