There has been some buzz about Las Vegas and some possible underhanded dealings that have pushed a nice relaxed timeline into a WTF. (That would be "what the fu**?" for you folks who don't know).
Read, for instance here from a candidate who wishes he could do more. Read also articles here, here, and here that lay out rumors involving Harry Reid and ties to the Washington County bill Senator Bennett is working on.
What I'm wondering is why there isn't more buzz? This is potentially an underhanded deal with political pressure from both sides pushing something that is obviously going to affect the people, places, and species in the area far beyond what they're letting on. Citizens on both sides of the border, and even in California, should be questioning their leaders on this.
Is it because the Snake Valley, and many of the other affected valleys, is home to only a few people that don't hold enough political clout? Is it because these valleys are dusty and sparse anyway? Or is it because a few populated areas just cannot find other ways to quench their thirst?
I'm tired of living in a world where conservation is never the first solution, but the last resort.
Why haven't desert cities like Las Vegas and St. George introduced some common-sense measures like xeriscaping, low-flow faucets, restrictions on daytime watering, and other conservation initiatives that simply make sense given their location? Do these people honestly believe they can keep living like they do with no consequences? Why should good people in Utah and Nevada have to lose their livelihoods so a housing development in Vegas can sustain expansive green lawns and pools?
I read a work of fiction titled "The Tamarisk Hunter" by Paolo Bacigalupi in the last issue of High Country News about a west that doesn't seem so far off: A place where no one can tap into the water because the bigger, better, richer people downstream hold all the rights and have no sign of conscience. Where the states surrounding the Colorado Plateau have been abandoned and turned to ghost towns in a huge drought, while the Colorado flows on to places like Vegas and California.
It's already happening, albeit on a much smaller scale. These folks in the toughest and roughest terrains in Utah and Nevada will be left out to dry, their livelihoods, and indeed the livelihoods of many generations before them, will be nothing but dust, while the folks with the money and the right political connections forge ahead without even a glance in their directions.
I love the Basin, as I have written before. It holds a very special place in my heart, and I hope beyond hope that something can be done. But I am just one. It will take more than myself, Kim Christison, and a few speculating newspaper articles to catch the attention of the powers-that-be. I am calling on all fair-minded people to write letters-to-the-editors of papers in Utah and Nevada, letters to Harry Reid, Bob Bennett, and Jim Matheson. Letters to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, particularly to Harry Reid's son that sits on the board. Posts on blogs. Links to posts. Whatever you can do to draw attention and let them know that this will not go down quietly.