Rango and Las Vegas: A shared story about water crisis

Written by Laura Martin, Class 5 "Pah" is the Indigenous Nevadan's word for "water". Water's importance is honored in the names of many cities and towns in Nevada: Pahrump, Tonopah. "Paiute”, the name of one of the area’s tribes, translates roughly to "water people.” Travelers in the Southwest would look for this tribe because usually when they found them, it meant water would be near. Water is very important to Nevadans--so important that populous southern Nevada plans to
siphon water from the rural part of northern Nevada in order to meet the demand for water in cities like Las Vegas. A similar plot plays out in the Pixar movie Rango. In Rango, the cartoon lizard, voiced by Johnny Depp, finds himself in a dusty Old West town that is suffering from a water crisis. Through the course of events in the movie, Rango discovers that the mayor, in a bid to please developers and establish his legacy as an innovator, has used a pipeline to
redirect the water to the glimmering town of Las Vegas. The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) has recognized that as Las Vegas' population
continues to grow, so does the city’s need for water. As of today, SNWA has received official approval to make a water grab. Instead of finding ways to cut back on water usage—like charging for consumption instead of a flat fee that everyone pays, or allowing for grey water systems—SNWA now gets to build a $15 billion dollar pipeline that will displace or kill tens of thousands of wild animals. A Great Basin Water Network study shows that just through rigorous water
conservation, Las Vegas could generate one-half of the water that will be pumped through the pipeline. Pumping groundwater on such a scale could result in the water table dropping 75 feet. It could transform the region into a dustbowl, affecting the livelihood of cattle ranchers, indigenous tribes and Mormon Enterprises. In real life, Johnny Depp’s Rango is not here to save us from poor planning and greed, but we do have the Bureau of Land Management. They have the final say in the pipeline construction that
will cut across land that is owned by the federal government. They are developing an Environmental Impact Study, and holding public meetings about the project, which they’re set
to weigh in on this summer. Contact the Bureau of Land Management office in Nevada to share your opinion about the water grab:nvsoweb@blm.gov and sign up to receive email alerts from the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada who will provide information about upcoming BLM Nevada public meetings.

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