41°F
weather icon Clear

Utah pipeline plan an affront to Nevada

Nevada and Utah share more than borders. We share the coveted and much-fought-over Colorado River.

But it seems as if only one state — Nevada — is doing the difficult work to protect our most valuable resource during a time where temperatures are warming, climates are changing and demand is growing for more water in the Southwest.

The 2020 water year will likely have the river flowing somewhere around 60 percent of normal into Lake Powell, which then sends water through the Grand Canyon into Lake Mead. Despite that fact, Utah officials and their peers in Washington County are still pretending that it’s 1922 — the year the Upper and Lower Basin states signed the Colorado River Compact — ignoring the signs and plethora of science highlighting that states are already taking more water from the river than Mother Nature is giving us in return.

The proposed Lake Powell pipeline — which would run 141 miles from Lake Powell to St. George — would drain about 28 billion more gallons annually from the Colorado River to feed real estate development, fill swimming pools and satiate green lawns in the red rock desert in a region known by Utahns as Dixie. The project is moving through a federal environmental review process overseen by the Bureau of Reclamation that ends on Sept. 8.

The Lake Powell pipeline, the largest new diversion proposal on the Colorado River, pushes the river system closer to total imbalance. This project threatens the water supply for Nevada residents who depend on this water for their livelihood.

As part of the federal Drought Contingency Plan enacted by Congress in 2019, Nevada and Arizona have already cut their shares of the river. If Lake Mead’s levels drop by a few more feet, we will have to keep cutting our use. Lake Mead is currently 40 percent full, and all reliable estimates show that the lake will get even lower with time. That puts us in a precarious position where we are paying more to get more to serve our community.

Utah — on paper — can claim an entitlement to the water slated for the project as part of its share of the Colorado River. But the wet water isn’t there. And Nevadans will wind up paying the price for Utah’s greed.

Nevadans should oppose this disastrous project in order to protect our water and the iconic river that makes life in the West possible for 40 million people. We must also encourage pipeline opposition from the Colorado River Commission of Nevada, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Nevada Division of Water Resources and our congressional delegation.

Nevada must protest this project and remind Utah that it is not living in reality.

However, we can also use our lived experience in this new troubling water reality to help our neighbor’s desert communities adapt to what the Colorado River gives us.

St. George is the worst water waster in the United States. Per capita, residents consume about 300 gallons daily. In contrast, Southern Nevada residents consume less than half of that amount and have done the legwork to ensure that the community continues to thrive with its small share of the river.

As the population here has grown in the past two decades, the Southern Nevada Water Authority has cut our Colorado River use by more than 25 percent while the population has doubled. The authority has banked billions of gallons of water, invested in infrastructure such as the third straw and promised to engage in judicious conservation collaborations with other stakeholders on the river. The water authority plans for scenarios where the river is flowing millions of acre-feet lower than the compact and projects for climate change and population increases. Utah’s water officials should be taking our lead.

All that the Washington County Water District and the Utah Division of Water Resources need to do is invest in a cheaper option than the $2 billion pipeline: conservation. Right now, the best Utah can offer is promising to cut its use by one-half of 1 percent annually.

Southern Nevada will be happy to share the pages of our water conservation playbook. We’ve saved billions of gallons of water and billions of dollars by investing in conservation. Utah can, too. It’s time Dixie gets its head out of the sandy shores of Lake Powell.

Tick Segerblom, a native of Boulder City, is a former state lawmaker and represents District E on the Clark County Commission.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Is mask mandate realistic?

We’ve all heard the term “Where’s the beef?” The new 2021 term should be “Where’s the data?” That’s right, the data. Many, espousing to be our leaders, have continually warned us about the steps required to stay healthy while navigating this pandemic. Mandates soon followed the warnings.

Truth will help reveal solutions to nation’s woes

How do you stay calm and limit your stress every day? Personally, I take lots of deep breaths, stop whatever I’m doing and focus on something else. I push what’s bothering me to another part of my brain and move on. It’s rough, but I’ve had practice over the years, and it works most of the time.

City clerk vital to election, transparency

Mayor (Kiernan) McManus is on a mission to destroy our city. He has scheduled an agenda item at the Feb. 23 City Council meeting to terminate City Clerk Lorene Krumm’s employment contract.

Historical ignorance ruining America

While stationed in West Germany in 1978, I visited Dachau, the site of a former Nazi concentration camp. My bride is of Jewish ancestry and chose not to accompany me. I am glad she stayed home. No history book or teacher can prepare you for such an experience. Suffice to say, the stench and ambience of death still lingered and are forever etched in my memory.

Look for the good

Last week I wrote about our nation having hope and needing healing. Based on comments I received on social media and email, I can see we have a long way to go — a very long way.

City makes progress vaccinating residents

I have heard the suggestion that we should give January of 2021 back to 2020 and start 2021 in this month of February as January presented so many of the same challenges we have had to confront. February does in fact hold promise for beginning the process of recovery from all the hardships and stress the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on us.

Prioritize spending for public projects

How would you react if a store stocked merchandise few customers were interested in buying and those few customers who did buy were unwilling to pay the fully burdened price? Would you, a nonpurchaser, willingly subsidize stocking and distribution costs?

Hope returns to our nation

Last Wednesday morning I watched the inauguration of our nation’s 46th president, Joseph R. Biden, with tears in my eyes.

Censorship of legitimate opinions not acceptable

I have enjoyed the time spent writing a monthly commentary column for our local newspaper, the Boulder City Review. The commentary I put to pen is, of course, my opinion — an opinion that I have found to be held by numerous readers, not all, but many. Of course, there are those who do not share my position on the subject matter that I present and that is certainly well understood and acceptable.

Job guarantee would help millions

Do you get tired of all the suffering and dying we cause each other? I sure do. What do we do about it? Here’s what I do: read and learn. I read and learn how we can solve problems, not just talk, rant and rave on social media and share unfounded opinions with others.