Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mulroy Has Seen the Future of Las Vegas...And It Looks Like This:

Oh, look at what Pat Mulroy sees as our future!

The Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Bush administration's horribly disemboweled Environmental Protection Agency (you know, the guys that want to get rid of that pesky Endangered Species Act) and the National Association of Home Builders (always on the front lines of conservation) are looking for folks to attend yet another conference trumpeting "water smart" technology, this one a three-day affair in October.
The guest of honor will be His Royal Highness Prince Feisal Ibn Al-Hussein of Jordan brother of King Abdullah II. The cost to hear the Prince's keynote speech and learn how to conserve water is a mere $390 - an amount that should serve to keep the riff-raff out of the SouthPoint casino for the duration.
Bringing in yet another royal to lord over the commoners is of course fully in line with Las Vegas tradition, being that the Southern Nevada Water Authority and, by executive fiat, all of Nevada, is ruled by Czarina Patricia Mulroy. But does Prince Feisal know that he will have to bow before Her Royal Highness? Czarina totally outranks "prince."
The funny thing, of course, in turning to the Jordanians for advice about water conservation is perhaps a bit misplaced. (Although turning to SNWA for such advice is even more misplaced, in that the average Las Vegas uses about 3-5 times the amount of water as the average Jordanian and more than any other desert city in the Southwest.)
But an interesting factoid: Groundwater basins in Jordan are being over-pumped by as much as 319 percent of the recharge. A 2005 report from the Jordanian government found that groundwater is over-appropriated by more than 33 percent. Farmers, conservationists and residents of rural Nevada and Utah will recognize that these are exactly the policies favored by SNWA's demands on the regional groundwater resources: Use it up and turn the areas into economically destroyed deserts, all the better to concentrate political and economic power in Las Vegas.

So this "water smart" conference is yet another reminder what Mrs. Mulroy (sorry, Czarina Mulroy) has planned for us: Defoliated, dessicated desert in what was once a fertile crescent.
Another fun fact: Along with the homebuilders, a major sponsor of the conference to be held Oct. 8 - 10 is Black and Veatch, a huge multinational industrial contractor that knows both Southern Nevada and the Middle East because the company is a) building the SNWA pipeline and b) a major partner in the Bush administration's endless occupation of Iraq. Isn't it good when there is such ... synergy ...between the bullies of the world?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's time to reinforce the old western water law of "first in use, first in right" when it comes to the customers of the southern Nevada water (not just SNWA) districts. The current system of vilifying water uses outside the "officially defined" norm is nonsense and is building a "tragedy of the commons" based on a series of perverse incentives.

If a current water user signs up for turf removal or water smart use there is no real conservation benefit. Perverse incentives include putting that water back into the common pool which is then resold to developers whom in turn create even more demand on an already scarce resource. There is no benefit to the environment as the Feds have already locked up water for endangered species such as the Moapa Dace and the Armargosa pupfish. Less residential water use will not save a single ranch in Rural Nevada as the "saved" water merely goes back into the already overused common pool for sale to more developers.

There are a substantial number of people who believe that taming and greening the desert is both a moral and very human reaction to a hostile climate and that it has a civilizing effect. Many disagree, but if the water is legally obtained and has been put to that beneficial use then the "first in use-first in right" principle should apply. Those who will howl at such a notion should remember a couple of things. First every drop of water going into a lawn or tree is a drop denied the developers for more building which compounds demand on the common pool. Second, if there is a water crisis, it is a crisis of unwise growth further fueled by a feel-good water saving campaign which makes more water available for more growth.

Friends and Neighbors are not dropping like flies due to the lack of water. The danger to the pupfish comes mainly from its keepers, not from lawns and trees. Unbridled growth further fueled by "water savings" imposed on residents will not preserve a single ranch, it only emboldens the Mullroys and Bunkers in their quest to depopulate central Nevada with the neutron bomb of water extraction.

There is a place for growth and a means for residents to participate in the wealth it generates with a simple recognition of "first in use, first in right". By virtue of buying a water tap of a given size each house has secured a "right" to all of the water it will flow as long as the bill is paid. If, from this day forward, developers had to provide to the water districts, drop for drop, the amount of real water their project would use then a true incentive for water conservation could be developed.

Developers, not the water districts would have to go to existing homeowners and buy the excess first in use rights and that would quickly establish a market value for those rights. The buyer (not the districts) negotiates with and pays the homeowner to tear up lawn (yes, another perverse incentive from my view) and convert to water smart households. The districts in turn, bank a pool of common water for true emergencies when my neighbors and friends really do need a drink. That requires true conservation, not some ginned up PR campaign that puts lipstick on a pig.

It might even slow growth long enough to reassess the insanity of the neutron pipeline. Most importantly it allows individual choice and a very small opportunity to share in the riches of desert water.