One idea: Cut off California
Here’s how Nevada should respond to the latest water proposal from California:
We’re cutting off all Colorado River water to California for the next 15 years in order to make up for the over-appropriation that the state has been taking for years.
Of course, this will mean hundreds of businesses will close and housing developments will go dry, and there will be no growth in Southern California for a couple of decades.
But perhaps during that time California can rebuild its economy based on its actual allocations of Colorado River water and avoid conflicts in the future.
Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s not that far from the proposal made by California water officials to lower lakes Mead and Powell – by 120 feet, ultimately – over the next 15 years to protect its economy while it tries to adjust to living within its water means.
If California’s plan is an opening shot in negotiations, then Nevada and other Colorado River Basin states might just as well come up with something equally preposterous as a counter-proposal.
Actually, the other six states have agreed to some measures that would release water in dry years and help California try to adjust to conservation measures. For their reasonableness, however, the other states were told they shouldn’t mind if their fields dry up as long as California farms get enough water.
It would appear the negotiations have a long way to go.
Among other things, the California proposal would leave boat ramps and marinas as much as two miles from the lowered shoreline at Mead and Powell. Now do you get the picture as to how absurd this is?
Recreation, however, is really a small concern in the decades-long water wars.
The fact is California has simply winked at interstate compacts that are supposed to govern the sharing of water from the river and pretended the day will never arrive when the other states call its bluff.
Going into negotiations, perhaps Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming and New Mexico should remind Southern Californians of one thing: They are downstream from just about everybody.