There will be blood

EW among us will become the face of a catastrophe, but Pat Mulroy will. In 1989 the general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District staked her career on her ability to drive a pipeline nearly 300 miles north in order to tap the Great Basin aquifer.

Only Pat, her employees and the wishful have ever denied the ultimate cost of the water needed to fill this pipe. Rather, for the last two decades, the question has been: Where will the suffering be felt?

If Pat got the rural water, disaster would befall the Nevadan basins whose groundwater she intended to tap. If she didn’t, it would strike Las Vegas, whose irrepressible growth for much of the last two decades banked on the pipeline to refresh its dwindling supply of Colorado River water.

The Dry Garden: In praise of Leo Politi

A rant in the current Atlantic magazine argues that a plague of school gardens – thousands! – is returning the children of California’s Latino immigrants to the kind of stoop labor that their families struggled to escape. “Cultivating Failure” tilts at the groupies of celebrity chef Alice Waters and her Edible Schoolyard program in such an entertaining way that it’s a pity that so little of the article is true.

Click here to keep reading this week’s The Dry Garden in the Los Angeles Times.

Las Vegas pipeline loses its water

The 2007 award by the Nevada State Engineer of 40,000 acre feet of water a year to Las Vegas from Spring Valley in White Pine County, Nevada, pictured above, will be voided as part of the Nevada Supreme Court decision finding that the due process rights of the protestors were violated.

In a stunning reversal for Las Vegas water manager Patricia Mulroy, ground-water awards that were to fill an almost 300-mile-long pipeline planned by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to run from central eastern Nevada to Las Vegas were invalidated today. In an unanimous decision, the Nevada Supreme Court decided that the State Engineer violated the due process rights of hundreds, if not thousands, of people in target valleys across the Great Basin who had long protested the pipeline and water withdrawals.

February 2, 2010 update: see appended correction.

Disaster denied

“Southern California foothill communities escaped potentially disastrous debris flows from fire-scarred mountains during last week’s storms because total rainfall was far less than expected, the U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday.”

Click here to keep reading the AP report in the San Francisco Chronicle about how Southern Californian foothill communities were lucky during the last rain, but how they are far from immune to deadly mudslides as the rainy season continues. Via Aquafornia.

Or, if you live in the foothills and you are still thinking about staying in your house the next time a big storm rolls through, click here to read the USGS  “Emergency Assessment of Postfire Debris-Flow Hazards for the 2009 Station Fire, San Gabriel Mountains, Southern California”

I think I’m in love

It could be that the Department of Interior’s new website would appear merely well done if Monday afternoon hadn’t been spent at a Congressional field hearing listening to Central Valley Rep Tom McClintock lie, lie and lie some more about how the federal government is failing his region for the “enjoyment and amusement” of a fish. There might be a more shameless man in politics, whatever the party, but it doesn’t bear thinking about. Instead, quaint as it might sound, to find out what is actually happening, click here for Interior’s Interim Federal Action Plan for the California Bay-Delta. If you missed it the first time, it’s because it was published two days before Christmas.

For a report from hydrogeologist Michael Campana on the proceedings this week inside the National Academy of Sciences committee gathered at the behest of Senator Dianne Feinstein, click here. The committee was convened 

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