Monday, September 05, 2011

How Much Is The SNWA Watergrab Really Going To Cost?

Well now, that depends on how you ask the question.

  • There's the up front cost, which doesn't mean anything, since SNWA intends to borrow the money to pay for it – and the finance charges will dwarf the up front charges.

  • There's the cost the SNWA admits to just before you're committed

  • There's the cost experts estimate

  • There's the cost if there are construction cost overruns, more loans, refinanced loans, penalties, and whatever else the bank can come up with to charge Las Vegans even more.

  • There's the economic cost devastating rural economies.

  • And then there's the hidden costs which we rarely even think about...

Three billion dollars. That's what Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) told us for years. Which, in the real world, didn't mean dehydrated antelope poop. After 20 years, the estimate was up to 3.5 billion dollars now – because they expanded the project. This, in itself, tells us that the figure means nothing. It didn't keep up with inflation. In fact, they totally ignored inflation.

Twenty years ago, there was an expert opinion that estimated the watergrab cost at up to 20 billion dollars. But most people forgot about that.

Originally, SNWA told us that Las Vegas needed to steal water from the rest of the State to accommodate the exponential growth they were experiencing. But then the growth stopped. So, they needed another excuse. They chose drought. They told us that someday, maybe even soon, the Colorado River might dry up. Of course, they didn't admit that if that were to happen; drought would hit the rest of Nevada too – and there wouldn't be any water to take.

SNWA wants us to believe the watergrab isn't about growth. ...Yeah, right.

But let's consider that option.

And what do the people of Las Vegas gain for this outrageous bill? Well, they already have enough water. There are no shortages now. So, I guess the watergrab pipeline would be turned off most of the time – because Las Vegas wouldn't need the water. If the population of Southern Nevada were to remain stable, the only real need would occur when the Colorado River drys up.

Now wait a minute, the Colorado River didn't dry up this year. I'm not saying it couldn't, but it hasn't.

So, SNWA wants the people of Las Vegas to pay what could be well over $9,000 per person for water they don't really need, to avert the risk of rationing. Now, since the people of Las Vegas already use more water, per capita, than most people in the world; water rationing really wouldn't be that big a deal. And I would bet, that to save $9,000 per person, most of the people of Las Vegas would be willing to risk a little water rationing. (Or conservation, if you want to use a nicer term.)

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