Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere…

Have you ever seen a picture of the earth from space?  It’s pretty blue – a lot of liquid.  That stuff is called “water.”  Something God made sure there would be plenty of – perhaps more abundant than any other resource on the planet, except, maybe, air.

Well, you wouldn’t know it if you lived in the western United States, facing a panic due to a catastrophic drought.  Yes, catastrophic.  (Go back to that satellite image of the earth….)  

Guess who is in charge of water on that little blue ball?

Las Vegas may be toast – for those who have never been there, it is in the middle of an inhospitable desert, so 8 months of the year it really is toast.  But now it is serious:

“The situation is as bad as you can imagine,” said Tim Barnett, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “It’s just going to be screwed. And relatively quickly. Unless it can find a way to get more water from somewhere Las Vegas is out of business. Yet they’re still building, which is stupid.”

Perhaps someone will suggest a market price for water.

Las Vegas gets its water from Lake Mead:

It is located 25 miles outside the city and supplies 90 per cent of its water. But over the last decade, as Las Vegas’s population has grown by 400,000 to two million, Lake Mead has slowly been drained of four trillion gallons of water and is now well under half full. Mr Barnett predicts it may be a “dead pool” that provides no water by about 2036.

A 25% population increase over ten years – a calamity; why, that’s about 2% per year compounded growth.  Overwhelming.  No wonder the lake is running dry – who could ever meet an increased demand for their product, at a catastrophic growth rate of 2%?

Perhaps someone can suggest a market price for water?

Nope, a government boondoggle instead – a giant straw in the lake:

That rescue project is costing $817 million and is currently expected to be complete by late 2015, but it is not viewed as a long-term solution.

Eight hundred million isn’t a long term solution – maybe it will buy another year or two.  Have I mentioned that someone might consider a market price for water?

Las Vegas also wants to build a separate $15.5 billion pipeline that would pump 27 billion gallons of groundwater a year from an aquifer 260 miles away in rural Nevada.

Fifteen billion dollars, I guess instead of a market price for water.

“The drought is like a slow spreading cancer across the desert. It’s not like a tornado or a tsunami, bang. The effects are playing out over decades. And as the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people (from Las Vegas).”

Removing people (by force?), instead of a market price for water?

Most of that water is used to sprinkle golf courses, parks and lawns so the water authority has declared war on grass, paying homeowners to remove it from their gardens at the rate of $1.50 per square foot.

Paying to remove grass, instead of a market price for water.

One proposal is for landlocked Nevada to pay billions of dollars to build solar-powered desalination plants in the Pacific off Mexico, taking Mexico’s share of Colorado River water in exchange.

Billions of dollars, instead of a market price for water.

You think Nevada is nutty?  Get a load of California:

California is dealing with its own three-year drought, possibly its worst in half a millennium, which Governor Jerry Brown has described as “epochal”.

A three-year drought is “epochal.”  I guess Jerry hasn’t read the Old Testament.  Three years….

Go look at that picture of the earth again; see all the water?  That’s what God gave us.  Seventy-five percent or so of the earth’s surface is covered in it, yet there isn’t enough to sustain a 2% annual growth rate of people in Nevada.

Perhaps someone might suggest a market price for water.


  1. I guess its less expensive for the buffoons to keep on moving the levers of power in a futile attempts to get it right rather than go hands off and let the market decide.

  2. Out west there's a saying: Whiskey's for drinking, water's for fighting.

    Interesting that the 2%/yr growth happened at the same time the Bureau of Reclamation had a policy change that dramatically increased the flow of the Colorado river (basically not storing as much water). Also note the states in the upper Colorado basin have been using more of their allocation instead of letting it go. Even though there's a drought in the southwest, the last few years have seen record breaking snowpack in Colorado. The water in the Colorado basin starts in the CO high country, not locally. The same problem is compounding the drought in California too. Lots of rain and snow in the north, but it's not stored.

    If the Federal government would keep politics out of water management (like it did for the first 50 years or so of the Colorado River Pact), we might not be having this problem.

  3. Well, you wouldn’t know it if you lived in the western United States, facing a panic due to a catastrophic drought. Yes, catastrophic. (Go back to that satellite image of the earth….) emergency