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Drought Summit: Public Input as Scarce as Water

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Nevada's Drought Summit explored current and future water needs. Credit: Abigail Johnson
Nevada's Drought Summit explored current and future water needs. Credit: Abigail Johnson
 By Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV, Contact
September 24, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. - The Drought Summit wrapped up Wednesday with a focus on tribes and conservation voices, but other voices were missing, according to Howard Watts, communications specialist with the Great Basin Water Network.

Watts says the summit was dominated by big industry, water utilities and state agencies.

He would have liked to have seen a summit that provided more opportunity for public input and education.

"It really seems like a chance for state agencies and local water districts to pat themselves on the back, instead of, figuring out how to adjust to the drought and climate change in the long-term," says Watts.

During the summit, the Southern Nevada Water Authority reported that once their new pipe and pump in Lake Mead is online, the area's water supply is projected to support one million more people and 50 years of growth before any new sources are needed. Watts says the $15 billion pipeline is questionable legally, scientifically, and financially.

Watts says there needs to be more focus on conservation, like changing the current system where folks who rely on groundwater either have to use all the water that is allocated to them or they lose it.

"Some changes in that use-it or lose-it type of water law, ways to increase conservation, manage growth so we're not saving that water just to give it away to fuel unlimited growth in the future," he says.

The summit also featured ranchers, farmers, resort owners and mining companies.

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