Writer Thomas Horlacher appeals to the Colorado River compact states to voluntarily give up 350,000 acre-feet per year to Nevada


Mr. Horlacher — who grew up in western Utah and eastern Nevada where the Southern Nevada Water Authority is planning a pipeline to mine the aquifer — is appealing to the other basin states to right the wrong wrought on southern Nevada when the state was only allocated 300,000 acre-feet per year from the Colorado River Compact. Here’s his guest column from The Deseret News. Here’s an excerpt:

How then is it possible that Nevada is allotted only 2 percent of the total Colorado River water? In 1922, the Nevada delegates to the Colorado River Compact negotiations at Bishop’s Lodge, near Santa Fe, demonstrated an amazing lack of vision relating to the development of the sparsely populated southern part of their state. They were reported to be eager to please the California delegation, and they were observed imbibing copious amounts of freely-flowing alcoholic beverages.

So the delegates that drafted the compact were drunk — that explains everything.

More from the article:

What is to be done? Water is a touchy subject in the arid west and always has been. Arizona has never been happy with the Colorado River Compact (even though its tributary rivers to the Colorado were exempted from the contract), and all of the seven states would like very much to have a larger share. But does anyone really doubt that Nevada’s share is absolutely ridiculous?[…]

Here is a modest proposal: In terms of millions of already allotted acre feet of Colorado River water per year, let the fair-minded citizens of the other states of the compact be appealed upon to mercifully redeem Nevada’s folly by simply voting to freely give the following amounts of their allotments to Nevada: Colorado, .10; California, .10; Utah, .05; Arizona, .05; Wyoming, .05. Adding this to Nevada’s present .30 would leave the compact’s seven states with the following allotments: California, 4.30 million acre feet per year; Colorado, 3.78 million acre feet per year; Arizona, 2.75 million acre feet per year; Utah, 1.68 million acre feet per year; Wyoming, 1.00 million acre feet per year; New Mexico, .84 million acre feet per year; Nevada, .65 million acre feet per year.

Gifting these relatively modest amounts of water to Nevada would represent a type of salvation for both southern Nevada and the Great Basin. In times of drought, the amounts would be reduced proportionately. In times of plenty, the amounts would be increased proportionately…

Surely the good people of California, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and Wyoming can be persuaded to make these modest sacrifices in order to resolve this otherwise intractable crisis.

You have the chance to hear a discussion of the Colorado River Compact next Monday in Colorado Springs.

More Colorado River basin coverage

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