Thursday, August 04, 2005

Gambling for Water

Building off the previous post concerning water usage in the southwest, a great article in the BBC this morning chirped yet another warning to the country's fastest growing region: You're drying up. Fast.

As Mark Twain said, "Whiskey is for drinking, and water is fighting." Seems the desert southwest could be the Cesar's Main Event for some heavy blows in the coming years as California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico duke it out. Whats frightening in all of this is the fact that Las Vegas is one of the nation's fastest growing cities (6,000 people per month). But to the typical American tourist it's become commonplace to see 50 foot fountains of water and pools in every backyard amidst one of the world's driest climates. Talk about a man-made faux-paradise. I mean c'mon...its a freakin desert.

LV consumes over 190 gallons of water per person, per day. 30% of that is used outside, watering lawns and other shrubbery that otherwise wouldn't be there. To compare, Los Angeles uses approx. 162 gallons per person per day. New York City, after a 12 year plan to conserve water in the region has shrunk to 155 gallons. Austin, Texas, also dropped from 221 gallons to a respectable 116 gallons after a 15 year focus on water conservation.

I remember flying over Scottsdale, AZ a few years ago and seeing miles of dry brown desert and then all of the sudden, like a line drawn in the sand, neighborhoods of blue swimming pools and green backyards. The bottom line is water is a finite resource and we're treating it like it's infinite. Whats more, water wars between farmers (the ones growing the food for Las Vegas and many other southwest cities) and urbanites have been brewing for decades and are getting close to boiling over. They are vociferously fighting a bill that would bring a $5 billion pipeline from central Nevada directly to LV leaving little, if any, water for agriculture. So whats more important to you? Food or the casino fountains and pools that dot the desert landscape?

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