Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Raiders of the Lost Watershed

Maryland has decided to forego the fracking craze! One of the major reasons is the damage to aquifers from use and disposal of fracking fluid. Water is life.

If anyplace exemplifies that statement, it is Las Vegas. They need lots of water to make their desert village seem like an oasis to visitors. They get it from Lake Mead on the Colorado River. Unfortunately, like frackers pumping every ounce of oil or gas they can reach, Nevada has tapped Lake Mead all the way to the bottom in their desperation for water. If the long-term drought continues (though snowpack this year promises some relief), by 2030 there will not be enough water to conduct business as usual in Las Vegas.
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker

Southern California, which would also lose its supply from the Colorado River, could at least start desalinating sea water. Vegas doesn't appear to have any realistic alternatives besides conservation which, gauging by the falling level of Lake Mead, hasn't been enough to beat the drought. I doubt there was any consideration of the possibility of Las Vegas running out of water when the NFL decided to move the Raiders there starting around 2019. The business case for that move includes stadium attendance of 2 million visitors every year. 😕

Greed-driven growth will only exacerbate Las Vegas' water shortage. They are just one example of cities that need to take a whole new approach to navigating the resource constrained future looming over us. They could start by applying a concept out of the Green Party platform:
Consider the carrying capacities of the bioregions in which our cities are located and attempt to match urban populations to these natural limitations.

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