Saturday, March 24, 2012

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul - Vegas Style

From the "how f__king stupid can they get?" file.  Las Vegas is fast running out of water.   The city fears it may not even have drinking water next year.  Its reservoir, Lake Mead, is already at dangerously low levels.

So, what to do?  The answer is to pump massive volumes of water from distant parts of Nevada across three hundred miles of desert to Las Vegas.

Environmental groups, cattle ranchers and native groups from eastern Nevada have joined forces to oppose the decision.  They maintain there is no unappropriated water available in the targeted areas.

Bizarre as this may seem, this will not be the last time we'll see this sort of predicament occur in the drought-stricken US southwest.  This is a long odds gamble that the drought will end and surface water will be restored in time to avert collapse.  What is the alternative, shutting down Las Vegas?  


Anonymous said...

Building a massive city in the middle of the dessert may not seem like the brightest idea, you know... In hindsight. Who could have seen it coming?

The Mound of Sound said...

Very interesting point, Anon. Who could have seen it coming indeed? A critical part of the story of European settlement of the prairie, Central Plains and Southwest, is how we arrived at the juncture of an extended, unduly wet period.

We believed what we found was normal. We believed that vast region had far more precipitation than it actually normally had. And so we settled the land, established bountiful farms and even cities in the deserts of Nevada, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.

I met an influential figure from Houston a long time ago. He had been born and raised there. At one point he told me that the natives never inhabited his home area nor some other major population zones in the southwest. They knew these places to be uninhabitable. But we brought pumping systems, irrigation and air conditioning to create, in effect, an artificial habitability.

One thing that's particularly appalling in Vegas, Palm Desert and such places is how they spritz or mist the air on sidewalks to keep shoppers more comfortable. It's mind-boggling.