A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Colorful Las Vegas is Color Blind

The Las Vegas Sun ran an interesting editorial by Pat Mulroy, the manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority on her 2020 vision for water in the Las Vegas area. Regardless of the dire predictions for water availability from the Colorado River in the future, she is certain Las Vegas will be ready for "whatever nature throws our way".  I won't go into the details of her vision for the Snake Valley Pipeline option, or the third intake at Lake Mead, or the water exchange program with the Mexico desalination plants, you have already read about these ambitious plans elsewhere in the blogosphere.  What caught my eye was the following paragraph:

"I think we’ll continue to see more conservation. I think the community would resist stricter rules on turf, but there’s still a lot of unnecessary turf that can be removed and lots of improvements that can be made. Irrigation technology is going to improve, allowing us to use less water to maintain landscaping in a desert environment. And I see the green building community coming around to crediting us for our water recycling program instead of pushing gray water systems, which don’t create a single new drop of water (emphasis added). The only way I see us having to enact more stringent conservation measures would be in case of a resource crisis."

I think the point of "gray water" systems is to not need a new drop of bluewater.  I used to work in Las Vegas for a few years when the explosive growth was just beginning 20 years ago and there was talk of the water pipelines from the north back then to satiate Las Vegas.  Water recycling in Las Vegas is certainly wonderful news, but I think Las Vegas is going to need the full spectrum of the water rainbow to meet the future needs of a growing metropolis in one of the driest places in the US.  While I have a great deal of respect for Pat Mulroy's ability to manage a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary, multi-sourced water system with a penchant for megawater projects, I think Pat Mulroy has sipped a little too much goldwater.  Greywater happens in Las Vegas, and it should stay in the Las Vegas water portfolio with all the rainbow glitter and gold.


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