Water Grab

Southern Nevada Water Authority plans to destroy a way of life

Continuing on yesterday's video binge here is a great video about plans of the Southern Nevada Water Authority to suck up water from fragile parts of Nevada and pipe it to Las Vegas. The video looks at some of the impacts on areas of rural Nevada. It doesn't get very far into how risky this plan is for Las Vegas. Although SNWA would like to spend billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars to put in the pipeline the risks involved with having a whole city depend upon a facility that is impossible to secure flies in the face of the concerns of homeland security.


Surprise Snake Valley hearings require quick action

Pipeline in a ditch
On May 23 Southern Nevada Water Authority asked to have hearings on their applications to import more than 16 billion gallons of water annually from the Snake Valley in North Eastern Nevada. At SNWA's request the hearings were scheduled in record time. The gavel goes down on July 15. The quick start date for the hearings makes it challenging for those with an interest in the applications to make sure they are heard.

Snake Valley

Nevada's Snake Valley stretches into Utah, making the applications of interest to those in the water challenged areas of both states. The basin also is home to Great Basin National Park, Nevada's only National Park.

"We know there are a lot of very vocal people who live in Snake Valley. We've seen that in the other hearings," Kay Brothers, deputy general manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority told the Las Vegas Review Journal. The article in the Review Journal lays out a schedule where the hearings will be started in July and then continued to next year.

One is certainly left to wonder if this quick hearing call isn't designed to stack the deck in favor of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The tight timeline makes it difficult for many public bodies to even meet and decide to take action before paperwork must be filed with the state engineer.

SNWA's risky plan

There is little secret that the Southern Nevada Water Authority(SNWA) is out to suck Nevada dry. One of the real problems for Las Vegans is to figure out when SNWA is dealing with reality or when it is a SNWA magic looking glass version. For example SNWA wants us to believe it would be a good idea to spend billions of dollars (like at least tens of billions) to build a pipeline to get all that unused water.

However, other experts don't agree with SNWA's calculations of how much water is or isn't in areas like Dry Lake Valley (heh, it just sounds like a place for a pipeline to get water). See for example: "Tom Myers, a consulting hydrologist for the Great Basin Water Network, said the water authority is asking for several times the amount of water that's available, according to data compiled previously by the state engineer's office."

That's right. SNWA wants to spend billions and billions of dollars to build a pipeline. Not only will it vastly increase the security risks to Las Vegas and send Sin City deeper into its tailspin of unsupportable growth, but now they're proposing straws to places without the water they claim is there.

Keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em....

Launce Rake tried to get an estimate from the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) what they now estimate the water grab is going to cost. He points out that however many billions of tax dollars are going down this hole, er pipeline, it is certainly more than the 20-year-old $2 billion figure that is oft tossed about.

The SNWA plan seems to mirror the decades-old plan for the downwinders. The plan then suggested that if the government didn't collect data it couldn't ever be sued to release data under sunshine laws. Apparently SNWA would like us to believe the same of the water grab plans. A staff person for SNWA told Rake that they hope to have a number soon that they can share with the public.

Understanding that the number is a moving target that changes with time is easy. It is harder to understand why SNWA doesn't have a figure. Unlike the downwinder situation SNWA is dependent upon state and local funding for their project. The nominal blank-check of the defense industry is tucked away and not out on the table as it was for nuclear testing during the cold war. So the situation is either that SNWA's mis-management of this project is so great that they don't have a number or that they don't want to share it for fear it will awaken citizens of Nevada to what is going on here.

Study on water grab available for comment

A report to Congress titled "Water Resources of the Basin and Range Carbonate-Rock Aquifer System, White Pine County, Nevada, and Adjacent Areas in Nevada and Utah — Draft Report" released last weekend has some in Utah worried. Deseret News reports that the report raises concerns from Utah residents far from the Utah-Nevada state line about whether their area may be dried up by the thirst for uncontrolled growth in Las Vegas.

The report is available on the USGS Website as is a form for submitting public comment in the 60-day comment window starting June 1.

Costs of water grab pipeline mount

Marc Jensen, director of engineering for Southern Nevada Water Authority, told the Las Vegas Business Press this week that the costs of the pipeline are likely to be substantially higher than the agency has been telling the public.

[The pipeline's] $2 billion price-tag, meanwhile, is likely to be much higher once it breaks ground, Jensen admits, which could be as soon as 2010. "That was a figure first announced during a 2005 advisory planning meeting, but we've seen significant increases in concrete and steel and labor," Jensen added.

Jensen's comments come in an article about the agency's efforts to cut costs by using a design-build process for contracts in order to speed the construction of projects.


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