Farming in Callao

Friday, October 20, 2006

Water stories

Two recent news stories provide insight into the Colorado River and water conservation.

Storms raise Lake Powell level by five feet; Autumn rain raises level by five feet, from the Grand Junction Sentinel, reports the Lake Powell water levels have risen five feet this fall.

Water conservation a way of life; Drought-stricken areas of West adopt strict standards, in the Monterey Herald, tells how people all over the West have changed their water-wasting ways. From artificial turf over Roy Rogers' grave to brushing teeth without water running in the tap, water is being saved everywhere.

SNWA's program paying people to tear out lawns is mentioned, including notice that SNWA has put the kibosh on decorative water fountains, but only on the more insignificant ones. SNWA's conservation manager said, ''Any visual use of water like that can undermine people's perception of water conservation. It gives you the impression that water's not valued in your community.'

However, larger water features such as the Mirage volcano and the Bellagio fountains are still on, but only because they use low-quality groundwater or recycled water.

All those big fountains spraying water high into the 100 degree air has got to result in a lot of evaporation, unless they are using magic water (and who knows, in Fantasy Land they know how to spread around the Fantasy Dust). You can't see evaporation like you can lawn grass. Those debauched displays certainly undermine any perception of conservation and give a larger-than-life impression that water conservation is not valued. The more water Las Vegas wastes, the more likely it is that Snake Valley will be full of real dust soon.

UNLV history professor Hal Rothman likes to put things into simple equations. Although not quoted in this story, he has said that farming does not make sense because it consumes 80% of available water while only contributing 1% of southern Nevada income. Maybe he would argue that water wasted to titillate tourists has more value than rural spring water keeping sensitive species alive. After all, how much money do least chub contribute to the economy?

Water conservation in the West cannot be mentioned too often. It is the best, cheapest solution for all of us.

No comments: