Friday, April 29, 2016

Speakin' Out II

This was my second "public comment" at the Legislative Commission's Subcommittee to Study Water on April 22, 2016:

One of the biggest faults of Nevada Water Law has been with us since it was originally written. And looking back, the reason is obvious. Back when the miners, ranchers and farmers got together to divy up Nevada's water; they obviously didn't want to share any with the Indians. So they defined water “use” as not what Indians did with water. In other words, Nevada Water Law essentially does not define truly sustainable water use as “use.”

This is a crucial flaw that has ultimately led us in the misguided direction and over-appropriated condition we now find ourselves.

In my opinion; Nevada water law, at it's very core, promotes waste.

Because Nevada water law considers truly sustainable use as waste.

The irony is terrifying.

Essentially, here in the desert; the only legal use of water is to expend it.

My ancestors have lived sustainably here for over 10,000 years. But with over-appropriated water use, many parts of Nevada could be uninhabitable in less than 200 years.

Nevada water law needs to more rationally consider sustainable use, the environment that supports sustainable use, and future generations that will depend on us sustainably using what water there is.

We critically need to start thinking long-term while that option is still available to us.

Speakin' Out

This was my first "public comment" at the Legislative Commission's Subcommittee to Study Water on April 22, 2016:  

Please don't commodify Nevada's water.
I warn you now; we will not want to pay speculator driven “market” prices for our water.

We already have hedge funds investing in Nevada's water. Obviously, they're hoping that the “market price” will go through the roof. In Australia, where the commodification of water has been called “unbundling,” speculators have drastically driven up the price of water for water users. Consequently a huge number of farms have been driven out of business, urban users have faced severe restrictions, and Australia's environment has suffered dire consequences.

In Israel, where there is no legal doctrine of prior appropriation rights; some Israelis have claimed that they have solved their water problems with a free-market solution. Of course; most Americans have now realized that the term free-market actually means; the freedom for the powerful to take from the rest of us. Part of Israel's “solution” is to take water from the Palestinians. There are places in Palestine where the Palestinians and their crops go thirsty because the water under their feet is being exported to Israel. As a Rural Nevadan of Native American heritage, I don't want to be treated like Israel treats Palestinians.

I can see where the SNWA would want to change Nevada's water laws so that the water from the ranches they bought can be exported. But commodification is not the way to do it. The cost to everyone in the State is not worth it.

In the end; if all that matters about water is the price, only those with money to pay the over-inflated prices will have water.