Great Basin Water Network misrepresents proposed legislation

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(Southern Nevada Water Authority Investor Relations website photo)

In a recent op-ed submitted by the Great Basin Water Network (GBWN) regarding draft federal legislation, Kyle Roerink, GBWN executive director, misconstrues the plain language of the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act (Draft Act) by repeatedly and incorrectly connecting two provisions (Sections 802 and 804) in the Draft Act to the development of groundwater resources in eastern Nevada.  Whether these misstatements are intentional or merely careless, the Draft Act itself makes clear that the sole purpose of these provisions are to combine two existing rights-of-way for “the construction and operation of a power line” and to transfer title of federal land within Clark County on which existing water infrastructure is currently located.

The SNWA is responsible for ensuring reliable, high-quality water service to 76 percent of Nevada’s population and more than 40 million visitors annually. Perhaps more impressively, SNWA meets those water needs using only 5 percent of Nevada’s water resources, and water conservation has reduced Southern Nevada’s water consumption by 25 percent even as its population increased by 48 percent.

Treating, pumping and delivering water within our community is completely dependent upon a reliable electrical power supply, and the SNWA has been steadily adding renewable power supplies to its portfolio for decades, reflecting its long-term commitment to environmental sustainability. The SNWA also supported the revision to Nevada’s renewable energy portfolio standard during the 2019 Nevada Legislative Session. This standard now mandates that 50 percent of Nevada’s power supplies be generated from renewable sources by 2050. In accordance with the updated standards, the SNWA and its partners are developing renewable power infrastructure to support current water treatment and delivery systems.

The Eastern Nevada Transmission Project (ENTP), developed in partnership with the Silver State Energy Association, will convey clean, renewable energy to the Las Vegas Valley, as well as rural communities in Clark and Lincoln counties. The project will allow SNWA to access renewable power supplies at some of the lowest rates available today, saving water customers money. The transmission system will be constructed within existing utility rights-of-way on federally owned land and will comply with all applicable environmental regulations, contrary to Mr. Roerink’s claims. The sole purpose of Section 802 of the Draft Act is to combine two existing rights-of-way to construct the ENTP.

Section 804 of the Draft Act simply requires the federal government to transfer title to property within Clark County upon which existing public water system facilities are located.  Under this provision, properties remain in the public trust, but the municipalities – rather than the federal government – become the underlying property owners. The Draft Act also transfers lands currently occupied by existing schools, parks, fire stations, roads and other public infrastructure operated by Clark County, the Clark County School District, and the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, and Mesquite – another fact not represented in Mr. Roerink’s op-ed.

Sections 802 and 804 of the Draft Act provide a substantial benefit to the people of Nevada by facilitating clean power transmission and local, rather than federal, control of existing water facility properties. We encourage everyone interested in such important matters to read the Draft Act for themselves.

Andrew Belanger is the director of public service for the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Andrew Belanger
Andrew Belanger is the director of public service for the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is also important to make the distinction that increasing conservation does not decrease the amount of water Southern Nevadans use—SNWA is constantly patting itself on the back for conserving the little water we have, yet Clark County continues expanding and needing more water. And SNWA continues representing itself as a benevolent agency for Nevadans, meanwhile the agency has been fighting to build a pipeline that would drain—yes, literally drain—water from the upper Great Basin near Ely. If SNWA is successful securing this pipeline, which they are likely to be if articles like this can garner the favor of Southern Nevadans, Northern Nevandans—Native American tribes, ranchers and other industries that rely on that area to remain biologically diverse, alive and not destroyed by the removal of its water source—will pay the price. Just want to clarify who the victim is here.

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