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The plan by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to take water from eastern Nevada has met fierce opposition from rural residents, ranchers, American Indian tribes and conservationists in the area. (Henry Brean/Las Vegas Review-Journal File Photo)
The plan by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to take water from eastern Nevada has met fierce opposition from rural residents, ranchers, American Indian tribes and conservationists in the area. (Henry Brean/Las Vegas Review-Journal File Photo)

If you’re not old enough to be familiar with the “Water Wars” of the early 20thCentury, look it up. The 1974 movie, China Town  (Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway), although a dramatized, Hollywood version of the events that took place, was selected in 1991 by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry  for films that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and it is frequently listed as among the best in world cinema.

Ownes Valley after LA Aqueduct
Owens Valley today. Bone dry due to Los Angeles insatiable thirst for water.

Owens Valley paid the ultimate price for unfettered growth of the “Southland”, becoming a dried up desert region in order to quench the thirst of Los Angeles developers.

A new era of Water Wars is currently underway.  Most people are currently unaware of the historic consequences any more than they are concerned about future consequences.

On Feb. 9th, the  Las Vegas Review Journal reported that this past week, the Nevada Supreme Court dismissed an appeal of a lower court ruling that effectively stripped the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) of water rights for its controversial pipeline from eastern Nevada.

In 2013, Senior District Judge Robert Estes ruled that the state’s chief water regulator failed to adequately support a decision two years earlier to allow the authority to sink its wells in four lonesome valleys in Lincoln and White Pine counties. In an unpublished order, the SNWA was ordered to recalculate and probably reduce how much the authority should safely be allowed to pump from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys to avoid draining the basins and causing conflicts with other water rights holders there and elsewhere.

If you’ve reviewed your Water Wars history, does this sound familiar? Yet, this story is one that has gone relatively unnoticed by the vast majority of the population of the US Southwest.

Another notable expose was released this week. National GeographicWorst Drought in 1,000 Years Predicted For the American West. The article relates the following information:

“The chances of a 35-year or longer “megadrought” striking the Southwest and central Great Plains by 2100 are above 80 percent if the world stays on its current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists from NASA, Columbia University, and Cornell University report in a study published Thursday in the new open-access journal Science Advances.“ In 2100, my baby granddaughter will be close to my age. What kind of world are we leaving her and her peers.

In our area of Northern Nevada, the results of climate change are being felt right now as the high today, in mid-February, is expected to exceed 70 degrees, again. This is the 4th winter in a row that the snow pack is well below average. Depressing for the ski industry, but this lack of snow pack, which translates to extremely dry and fire prone summers, looks to be a trend we will have to get used to for the foreseeable future. Even if you are one of the very few arguing the scientific reasons for this change in weather patterns, the results are not deniable. The future is here.

Should be throw up our hands in helpless resignation?  My hope is that in support of the common good, lifestyle changes can be enacted now that will make the devastating effects of this drought cycle a bit more livable.

Although most of California and Nevada have be enacting the most minimal water use restrictions of some type or another (i.e. Odd-Even watering days, prohibitions on watering drive and walkways) Grey water recycling is a simple way to recycle and reuse our most precious resource. My question to our community planners is, “Why aren’t we requiring personal grey water recycling systems to be installed on all new construction?” In some areas, health departments actually prohibit systems to be used for individual residences.

If you’re interested becoming part of a water planning solution, contact the Long Now Foundation.  Long now is a non-profit foundation established in 1996 by an eclectic group of Bay Area intellectuals, Long Now searches for “the long view” to a society increasingly distracted by its own rapid advancement.

According to their website: “The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.”

Help raise the level of public awareness by continuing this discussion. Share the information provided by this blog, and more of your own insight.