New #ColoradoRiver book recasts ‘wasteful’ Las Vegas as a monument to smart water use #COriver — The Las Vegas Review-Journal

waterisforfightingoverandothermythsaboutwaterinthewestjohnfleckcover

From The Las Vegas Review-Journal (@RefriedBrean):

[John Fleck] spent a quarter century writing about environmental issues for the Albuquerque Journal. He now serves as director of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program.

In a phone interview Thursday, he said the Las Vegas Valley still uses more water per capita than other Southwestern cities, but the community has made tremendous strides in both conservation and governance that have allowed it to keep growing without out-growing its limited water supply.

Despite a reputation for waste and excess, Las Vegas actually represents the way forward for everyone who depends on the Colorado River, Fleck said. The only way we’re going to save the river and ourselves is by celebrating our successes, acknowledging our shortcomings and working together on solutions, he said.

“I hope the people of Las Vegas get that they should feel proud of how much they have done but recognize that they probably need to do more,” he said.

As for those fountains at the Bellagio, Fleck notes in his book that they are fed not by the river but with brackish groundwater pulled from a well once used to irrigate the golf course at the Dunes. The attraction consumes about 12 million gallons of water a year, roughly the same amount used to irrigate 8 acres of alfalfa in California’s Imperial Valley.

“Imperial County’s farmers get ten times the water Las Vegas gets. Las Vegas makes ten times the money Imperial County farming does,” Fleck writes.

And his view on Vegas isn’t the only counter-intuitive take in “Water is for Fighting Over.”

Most books about the Colorado River offer a pessimistic view, including the seminal work on the subject, Marc Reisner’s “Cadillac Desert.”

Fleck jokes that his book is more like “Volvo Desert.” The future river he envisions is sturdy, reliable and built to survive a crash.

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I finished up John’s book last week. I recommend it to everyone involved in water.

Agreements between affected parties have proven over time to produce better results than litigation, even when some are forced to the table.

John makes this point by a telling of the history of the Colorado River Basin.

He was inspired to write the book after witnessing the pulse flow down the Colorado River Delta in 2014.

You can score a copy here.

Young girl enjoying the river restored temporarily by the pulse flow March 2014 via National Geographic
Young girl enjoying the river restored temporarily by the pulse flow March 2014 via National Geographic

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