Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Watergrab Solved

There is a way to get Southern Nevada more water without devastating the Rural Nevada environment and leaving present Las Vegans indebted for life for water not even for them.

But first; allow me to point out that the Southern Nevada Water Authority's (SNWA's) watergrab of Rural Nevada water is a terrible idea. It's a Ponzi scheme. Though SNWA won't admit to it any longer, the real reason for wanting more water is to sustain unsustainable growth – most of it not even in Las Vegas. SNWA has put short-term developer and investor profits over the sustainable future of Nevada. 

Unfortunately, water efficiency and recycling aren't enough for them. They're committed to getting more water – and we have to deal with that.

So, here's how we get them more water:
Give them the irradiated water off the Nevada Nuclear Test Site... No, not really. But when you think about it; if that water had not been irradiated, that's where Southern Nevada would have been going for more water. They wouldn't be paying billions extra to leapfrog the Test Site. They shouldn't have to.

The Federal Government owes Nevada for the water they irradiated.

Over 60 years ago; the U.S. Federal Government decided, without input from Nevada, to blow up nuclear weapons on Nevada soil. Over the years, billions of gallons of Nevada groundwater was contaminated. In conscious decisions that were made by U.S. leaders, Nevada water was determined to be acceptable collateral loss. And now we need it.

The U.S. owes Nevada for the water they irradiated. This ought to be a sure thing in civil court. But we don't want the money. We want the water.

Now, before anybody starts asking for Federal money for the watergrab, remember; if the U.S. were to pay for the SNWA watergrab pipeline network, it wouldn't really mean more water for Nevada. The watergrab just takes water from another part of the State.

What Nevada needs is more water. The only way to get that is with desalination. Because that is the only way the world is going to get more fresh water.

And how do we get that water from the coast to Southern Nevada? We don't. All we have to do is trade the desalinated water for more water from the Colorado River. The coastal cities of California will get more water – which will free up more water for Colorado River dependent farmers (some Southern California farmers sell their water to the cities), and for Southern Nevada. Win-Win-Win.

What should be done is; the U.S. Government should commit to the technical development of offshore desalination plants. Sooner or later, someone will have to construct pilot desalination plants off the coast of California. And if the government is involved, this can be done in a way that helps all water users. By providing desalinated water to our coastal communities, we can free up more water upstream on our rivers. This means more water for everyone.

It only makes sense that America plan ahead to make more fresh water for Americans. Politically, it's definitely time. Almost the whole nation is in drought.

The cost of desalination has dropped drastically since Pat Mullroy pulled together SNWA from competing water districts in Southern Nevada (with the obvious intent of bullying Central Nevada).

What seemed like a good idea 20 years ago is now the more expensive decision.

Besides, if they take the water, it won't be there when they really need it.

SNWA could still do the right thing. Now that they have the water rights to valleys hundreds of miles away, all they have to do is nothing. By sitting on those water rights, SNWA could save these valleys (and the adjacent mountain ranges) beautiful natural high desert environment for decades. Saving water for when we really need it is the wise thing to do – and it's far less expensive.

For their immediate needs (wants); there is a less expensive potential source than the watergrab – and Las Vegans might even get major financial help paying for it. The U.S. still owes Nevada water. Moreover, California needs more water. And California has a lot of political clout.

If Nevada and California got together in Congress – along with many other States now in drought; we could pass legislation to develop offshore desalination plants. These desalination plants would be tsunami resistant, earthquake resistant, terrorism resistant, unaffected by sea level rise, insignificant contributors of salt to the deep ocean, out of the views of coastal communities, and if designed right; run off of renewable energy such as solar, wind, and/or wave energy.

America needs more water. The only way to practically get more fresh water is desalination. The only way to practically desalinate is to do it offshore. And the only way this will happen any time soon is if our nation pulls together like on the development of the interstate highway system.

Offshore desalination is inevitable. The only question is; will we decide to drain all our groundwater first?


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