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Sat Jan 26, 2013, 09:17 AM

Las Vegas Accused of Engineering Massive Water Grab: Is This the Future of the West?

January 25, 2013 |

Las Vegas exudes an all-you-can-eat mentality. People walk between casinos carrying giant cups of slushy liquor; advertisements blare from speakers on the streets pitching the best shows, best food and best deals; escalators take you across streets and directly into malls. You spend your time buying something, eating something, or watching something. Either way, it’s consume, consume, consume.

But this hunger is hard to satiate and it takes its toll, revealing the city’s central dichotomy — it is a destination of both the high-brow and the down and out, the high rolling and the thrifty, a megaphone of riches and poverty. And nowhere is this more apparent then in one of Las Vegas’ most contentious relationships — with water. If you walk the Strip, you’ll see gondolas floating on canals of aqua pool water, misters spraying overheated tourists in the hot sun, pirate ships docked in rocky coves, and fountains everywhere you look.

The abundant water is a mirage, although it wasn’t always. Las Vegas got its name, meaning “the meadows,” after Spanish explorers found artesian springs in the area. And long before that, in the Pleistocene, much of Nevada was plunged under the depths of massive Lake Lahontan. There are only vestiges of that great lake left, and the early artesian wells found near Las Vegas have long ago quenched the thirsty, but nevertheless, the thirsty keep on coming.

When groundwater reserves ran low in the 1940s, the region turned to Lake Mead. Today, the Las Vegas area gets 90 percent of its water from the no-longer-very-mighty Colorado River as it is corralled behind Hoover Dam in Lake Mead. And now that’s threatened. A new federal study released in December found that the over-allocated Colorado River will be further stretched by climate change, drought and climbing populations. By 2060, the river will be short of what its dependents in seven U.S. states need by 3.2 million acre-feet a year. (An acre-foot of water is roughly enough for one suburban family per year.)

http://www.alternet.org/environment/las-vegas-accused-engineering-massive-water-grab-future-west-photo-slideshow

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Reply Las Vegas Accused of Engineering Massive Water Grab: Is This the Future of the West? (Original post)
IDemo Jan 2013 OP
enlightenment Jan 2013 #1
Bennyboy Jan 2013 #2
Jim Lane Jan 2013 #4
enlightenment Jan 2013 #5
Jim Lane Jan 2013 #6
oldandhappy Jan 2013 #3

Response to IDemo (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 10:08 AM

1. Yes, Las Vegas is in a desert -

guess what? So are other large cities.
The urban area that contains the "city" of Las Vegas (as well as half a dozen other cities that make up the place most people call "Las Vegas") is home to almost two million people.

The "Strip" - which the writer of this article apparently never stepped away from - is a not quite four-mile long stretch of road. The vast majority of the big casinos are located in about a mile and a half of that length.

Drawing conclusions about the city based on one street is absurd and perpetuates the mythology that Las Vegas is nothing but casinos. The city has its problems, definitely, and water is a big one - but this article only highlights the author's ignorance. Casino water use is about seven% (that's 7 percent) of total water use in the valley.

Try reading this:
http://articles.cnn.com/2011-09-02/us/las.vegas.water_1_water-conservation-water-district-water-consumption?_s=PM:US
and this:
http://www.pacinst.org/reports/las_vegas/index.htm


If the author wants to go after water grabs and water waste, she should look to California - that state takes far more of the Colorado than any other Lower Basin state.

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Response to enlightenment (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 11:10 AM

2. All of the cities that are in the desert

 

are going to be shuttered shortly. Lets face it, water is scarce everywhere. We have no forward thinking on energy or water and that means that within out lifetime, the Vegas, Yuma, Phoenix, El Paso etc are all gonna be fucked. Exactly what the Pentagon report on global warming predicted. Millions of refugees from climate change. And it is accelerating. the Mississippi is going to be shutting down and the midwest is in serious drought. Remember the 5 mile high dust storm in Phoenix last year? Just the beginning.

(of course if we would start growing hemp it would alleviate much of the problem because the cotton farmers would not as much to grow or manufacture hemp products...


When I go to Vegas and hang out down there one thing crosses my mind. With all those rooftops, why don't I see any solar panels?

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Response to enlightenment (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:00 PM

4. The linked article DOES go beyond the Strip

She's certainly not drawing conclusions about the city based only on the Strip. She writes:

And despite what passes for water profligacy on the Strip, the biggest water guzzlers are property owners with lawns. “Although the fountains are nice targets, it’s people living in the Mojave Desert as if they’ve lived in New England who are the biggest water wasters,” Fulkerson says. Resorts on the Strip use just 3 percent of the water – the biggest use for them is the air-conditioning cooling towers.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #4)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 01:53 PM

5. Resorts use closer to 7% -

that's data from the Southern Nevada Water Authority. And making a comment about the Mojave Desert in general isn't talking about Clark County in particular . . . unless Fulkerson is trying to conflate the waste in California and Arizona with southern Nevada.

To be useful in any way, the author needed to stick to her topic - which is water resource allocation. In order to do that, however, she would have to actually know something about water resource allocation. When she can write, intelligently, about the Colorado River Compact, including percentages of water use, instead of making it sound like Las Vegas is sucking all the water out of Lake Mead (that would be California and Arizona, just so you know), then I'll consider this as something more than a convenient hit piece on the city.





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Response to enlightenment (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 06:22 PM

6. Your criticisms don't hold up.

I noticed the difference between her 3% and your 7% figure, but on closer inspection decided it wasn't worth commenting on because the explanation was obvious. You say casinos use 7% and she says resorts on the Strip use 3%. There are plenty of off-Strip casinos to make up the difference, even if we assume that you're both using the same denominator.

You try to give the impression that she's covering up for California and Las Vegas in order to do a hit piece on Las Vegas. If you read the entire article, you'll find a devastating criticism of the effects of California's water raids. The topic of her article is SNWA's plans and proposals, though. It's reasonable for her to focus on water use in Las Vegas, and on the environmental and societal impacts if SNWA goes ahead with piping in water from elsewhere in the state.

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Response to IDemo (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 10:59 PM

3. Nothing new

Mulhulland did it decades ago in L.A. Stole the water from up 395 and brought it down to the L.A. for development.

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