“Isn’t it true …”

It was a long day yesterday and watching a lawyer for Las Vegas question a water analyst from a California wasn’t supposed to be part of it, until it was. Seldom are courtroom proceedings in real life better than they are on, say, “The Good Wife.” But for the first half of Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, in the on-going Carson City hearings over whether or not to grant a Las Vegas pipeline water from four rural Nevada valleys, reality won.

Appearing for Las Vegas was Steven Sims, a New Mexico-based lawyer better known in California as counsel for the Westlands Water District, the Central Valley corporate farm interest dedicated to overturning the Endangered Species Act the better to siphon massive amounts of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta without regard to water needs of fish.

Appearing as an expert witness for opponents of the pipeline was Peter Gleick

Opening day notes

From left to right: Las Vegas water authority witnesses Kay Brothers, John Entsminger and Richard Holmes were sworn in on Monday, September 26th at the Carson City hearings being held by the State Engineer of Nevada to determine whether and in what quantity to permit groundwater pumping for a Las Vegas pipeline.


Pat Mulroy seemed haggard and uncharacteristically subdued as hearings commenced today in Carson City over whether to allow Las Vegas to pump groundwater from four rural valleys to support more casinos and houses in Southern Nevada. Yet, as she took more than half a day’s questioning, the performance today by Southern Nevada Water Authority’s controversial general manager built into one of her best. She all but annihilated suggestions by opponents that increased conservation, water trades from California or desalination were magic bullets that would obviate the need for rural groundwater to keep Las Vegas in business. Anyone

Vegas water hearings

Omnibus hearings before the State Engineer of Nevada that will decide the fate of Las Vegas’s bid to tap the groundwater of four valleys in the Great Basin begin Monday, September 26th in Carson City. If you can’t be there, you can still see there. Click here for webcasts and here for a schedule of witnesses, beginning with the Southern Nevada Water Authority, then following with representatives from ranches, Utah’s Millard County, the Great Basin Water Network, the Long Now Foundation, the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute. Expect to hear the Southern Nevada Water Authority argue that it needs rural water to keep Las Vegas the economic motor of Nevada, and protestants to dwell on the devastation that broad-scale groundwater pumping would bring the Great Basin. The hearings were ordered after previous awards for Las Vegas from Cave, Dry Lake, Delamar and Spring

To be fair

A friend of mine once summed up his bitching about an enemy by laughingly declaring, “I talked her down so bad that I made her look good.”

Today in Las Vegas City Life, investigative reporter and columnist George Knapp talks down Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager Pat Mulroy so bad that he makes her look good. For years now, Knapp has been the most consistent, the most outspoken critic of Mulroy’s plans for a 300-mile-long pipeline into Nevada’s Great Basin. Usually his reporting is good. It’s always rollicking. It is has been widely reported, for instance, including by Knapp, that a new study on the cost of the pipeline suggests that the ultimate price far exceeds earlier projections, that instead of $3bn it might cost $7.3bn, or even $15bn including financing.

This would buy a lot of conservation or water trades.

But is it by extension a

Las Vegas growing pains examined

Architect Robert Fielden. Photo: Steve Marcus / Las Vegas Sun. Click on the portrait to be taken to "Boom-bust era leaves architectural scars across valley" in the Las Vegas Sun.

All but a den of developers accept that the runaway building across the Las Vegas valley during the last twenty years was wrong. Yesterday in the Las Vegas Sun, staff writer Patrick Coolican and photographer Steve Marcus recounted a tour with Southern Nevadan architect Robert Fielden of the still ravishingly beautiful Mojave basin. Assessing the architecture of the boom, Fielden likened damage done by home builders to that of mining camps. The upshot is a slice of Western history as full of mistakes as it is of potential to learn from them.

If Coolican’s name sounds familiar, it may be because he was briefly lured from Southern Nevada to California to write on city news for the LA Weekly,

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