Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Change Course

Last month, we got quite the surprise. A White Pine County district court judge ruled against the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) in the latest law suit challenging SNWA's proposed Snake Valley Pipeline, the proposal many Rural Nevadans and environmentalists know as "The Water Grab". And to make matters even more awkward at SNWA headquarters, this news came just as long-time "Water Czar" Pat Mulroy was preparing to step down from the post that she molded and fashioned herself.

But now, all eyes are turning to John Entsminger. Why? He's Mulroy's pick to succeed her. And yesterday, he scored tentative approval from the Clark County Commission to take over the Las Vegas Valley Water District, the sister organization of SNWA. (Typically, the head of the Water District also takes charge of SNWA.)

Looking ahead, John Entsminger faces plenty of challenges. Perhaps the greatest one involves the epic Western Drought that's increasingly becoming "the new normal" as
climate change continues to take hold. The Colorado River simply isn't a limitless well. And a few good days of rain just aren't enough to make all of this go away.

So what can be done? Actually, it's already been done. And even more is possible... And probably necessary as well. Of course, we're talking about water conservation.

It's likely cheaper than all the additional construction and litigation that will be necessary to develop the Snake Valley Pipeline. But so far, Entsminger has refused to back away from Mulroy's plans to build the controversial pipeline. It just remains to be seen whether the rest of Clark County will be so willing to stay the course.

Funny enough, even John Entsminger himself has admitted that some changes will be necessary. With so much aging infrastructure and more practical ways to manage water resources likely at hand, does it make sense to charge small consumers more just to build a pipeline that was originally meant to nourish Harvey Whittemore's greatest pipe dream yet? Or is it time to change course?

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