Water is about as important as air, especially in Las Vegas, but it is a little more expensive. Not much more, not compared to what people are paying in, say, Detroit or Seattle or Tucson or Albuquerque or any other part of the country where the commodity is treated as the precious substance it is, but it still costs.
A number of analysts have suggested, in fact, that one reason why Las Vegas' water users tend to lead the Southwest, indeed the nation, in gallons-per-day use is that the wet stuff is cheap. Very cheap. That has helped us put turf and swimming pools all over the valley, but the drought and a cap on what we can take from the Colorado River means the glory days (stupid days?) are over.
The primary strategy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority to stave off disaster has been to plan the defoliation of the Great Basin, a plan that has caused a fair degree of consternation among those folks who live in the Great Basin. Also, among anyone who actually gives a damn about the environmental future of this country. Or, selfishly, lives downwind of what would be toxic dust storms emanating from the newly created desert on thousands of miles around East Central Nevada.
The alternative pushed by the silly eco-terrorist community has been to look at the use patterns of Las Vegans and suggest you could save as much water from conservation in this city and suburbs as you could from the Water Grab. Such perspectives are anathema to the Captains of Industry and Government who have run this city so well, if occasionally criminally, in the past, but those Captains have responded with various conservation measures, some more successful than others.
One of the potentially most effective, however, has a long way to go. But perhaps it is starting.
The Las Vegas Valley Water District (aka SNWA) has a committee meeting on the issue of water rates, and specifically issues of equity, financial stability, and most important, conservation. (I am on the committee, much to the unhappiness of some of those afore-mentioned Captains.)There has been very little public attention to this committee.
I think some of the discussion has been eye-opening. At least one member is arguing for a flat rate structure, which would actually undermine the existing, if awfully anemic, "tiered" structure that encourages (again, anemically) conservation. But there is a lot of discussion that is going to affect people's wallets, pocketbooks and back yards.
I, being an environmental fanatic, have suggested that since the West is in the worst drought in recorded history, and since I'm doing all I can to muck up SNWA's Water Grab, it juuuust might be a good idea to try to live within some sort of less wasteful water budget.
Crazy talk, I know.
Things on the Rates Citizens Advisory Committee are going to get interesting ("interesting" within the context of really, really boring power point presentations showing various rate-structure financials and water pipe sizes) over the next few weeks. There are meetings scheduled Oct. 3 and Oct. 17.
The meetings are from 4 to 6 p.m. and they are at 1001 S. Valley View, on the corner of Valley View and Charleston, in the conference room of the Water District offices.
Come on down and make your voice heard.
This is one issue that hits 70 percent of the water users in our community directly and affects 100 percent, even those outside the service district, because whatever comes from Clark County and Las Vegas will be mirrored in the suburbs.
The issue may be dry (heh, heh) but it is important.