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A Manhattan Project for Western Water

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Matt Jenkins’ story "Squeezing water from a stone" was well researched and informative, but I am afraid that the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s (SNWA) efforts to acquire water are just the tip of the iceberg (HCN, 9/19/05: Squeezing Water from a Stone). Lincoln County caved in because they did not have the money to fight back and SNWA offered half their water claims to the county for its use if the county dropped its protests. This means that the county, in partnership with Vidler Water Co., can eventually develop as much water as SNWA. Just in case this scenario is not grim enough, one of the state’s largest developers is buying up vast amounts of water rights.

It seems to me that we desperately need a Manhattan Project for the environmentally sustainable development and allocation of water resources in the West and a complete rewrite of Western water laws. There is no way that the Colorado River and Southwestern groundwater can indefinitely fuel the explosive growth of the Southwest without creating an environmental disaster for everyone and everything outside the city limits.

Don Shanks
Pioche, Nevada

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