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Water grab and privatization

In fast-growing Nevada, the political and economic pressure will always be to err on the side of growth, development and sprawl. And that means plundering water resources.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is proposing to pump as much as a quarter-million acre feet of groundwater out of an aquifer beneath rural lands to the north. Rural residents dependent on the groundwater have raised concerns, as have environmentalists, concerns which invariably are met with promises that every effort will be made to assure that the aquifer is not unduly depleted, that the environmental impact will be minimal, that the project will not constitute “another Owens Valley," referring to the infamous Los Angeles water grab that turned a valley of farms into a sage-covered bed of dust.

Making the water grab even more egregious: a private water company is waiting in the wings to take advantage of the opportunity to mine Nevada’s aquifers.

Under  Nevada law, water within the state belongs to the public. But a California company called PICO Holdings sees Nevada’s water resources not so much as belonging to the public but as “an attractive business opportunity.” The company hopes to purchase rights to the public’s water, and then sell the public’s water back to the public at the highest price it can get.

A coalition of Nevada public interest groups, environmental organizations, rural residents and others formed the Nevada Water Network to educate the public, fight the water grab and thwart the privatization of Nevada’s water. The network can be reached at sblynn@sbcglobal.net.

    » cmep | Water | us | bulksales | nevada

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