Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) received a setback to its proposed pipeline to pump groundwater from Northern Nevada to Southern Nevada. A Nevada district court denied the SNWA authority to tap the northern counties' groundwater. The decision will be appealed.
At first glance, the pipeline project appears to reflect Las Vegas' seemingly insatiable desire for water to support rapid residential and commercial development. But the reality is a bit more complicated. While the idea of living in the middle of the desert seems audacious, the Las Vegas Valley has generally been a good steward of water resources. The density of residential development, for example, is quite high and cuts against common anti-sprawl arguments. The real trouble for Las Vegas is that it receives very little water from the Colorado River compared to neighboring states. When the Colorado River allocation agreement was initially struck, Nevada (and Las Vegas) were much smaller in population and weaker in political power. With the subsequent growth of Las Vegas, it becomes necessary to find a back-up plan to buttress the limited water resources from the Colorado.