Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 | 2:01 a.m.
Kudos to Ed Dornlas for his letter, “Don’t bet against Mother Nature,” regarding the fragility of our community’s water supply. Dornlas correctly notes that “just a few hours west we have an unlimited water supply in the Pacific Ocean.” But he fails to note that there is another — and possibly less expensive — way for Las Vegans to use ocean water than to simply pipe it to Las Vegas.
Under the 1948 Upper Colorado River Basin Compact, California is entitled to use 4.4 million acre-feet of river water per year, while Nevada can take up to 300,000 acre-feet. In other words, California’s allotment is 13 times greater than Nevada’s.
Suppose the Las Vegas Valley Water District were to contract with California to build a large desalination plant in southern California and then trade the fresh water produced for an equal amount of California’s Colorado river allotment. If Nevada were to double its current allotment this would enable us to grow to a community of roughly 4 million people. In return, California’s shortfall of 300,000 acre-feet per year would have to be replaced by locally produced desalinated water at Southern Nevada’s expense.