You’ll just have to drink less, even if you are willing to pay more

Hoover Dam and the ‘bathtub ring’ (NY Times photo)

Water is in the news, especially its scarcity.

Recently The New York Times published a 1,500-word article on this topic, datelined Lake Mead, Nev.

Never mind the credibility of the author, Michael Wines, was blown to hell by his second paragraph in which he says of the Colorado River: “The once broad and blue river has in many places dwindled to a murky brown trickle,” though everyone in the West knows that pioneers used to say of the silt-laden river: “too thick to drink and too thin to plow.” Never broad nor blue.

The article meanders through a series of factoids about drought, attempts to tap lower into Lake Mead for Las Vegas water, conservation, the historic pact that divvied up the river water, recycling and much more.

The article quotes John Entsminger, newly appointed head of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and likely heir to head the Southern Nevada Water Authority, as saying, “The era of big water transfers is either over, or it’s rapidly coming to an end. It sure looks like in the 21st century, we’re all going to have to use less water.”

The Wall Street Journal has a column talking about the shortage of water from one end of California to the other and how it is affecting homeowners, farmers and ranchers.

Jane Ann Morrison had a Review-Journal column about Entsminger’s qualifications to head up the water agencies. She too quoted Entsminger on the likelihood of Las Vegas having to get by with less. “The next chapter is not a discussion of how can we get more water, but how can we all co-exist with less.”

Everyone is wearing blinders. It is all about government allocating existing water supplies, building huge infrastructure, conservation and recycling sewage effluent.

No one but no ever suggests the one and only means of fairly allocating water to willing users: the free market.

I’ve quoted columnist and economist Thomas Sowell on this a couple of times before, but it bears repeating:

“There is no need for government officials to decide arbitrarily – and categorically – whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for particular crops to be grown in California with water artificially supplied below cost from federal irrigation projects. Such questions can be decided incrementally, by those directly confronting the alternatives, through price competition in a free market.”

No bureaucrat who wants to keep his job would ever suggest such a wild and crazy thing.

9 comments on “You’ll just have to drink less, even if you are willing to pay more

  1. Vernon Clayson says:

    They can BS all they want, talk in circles, say the river will dry up, fault climate change, whatever the excuses they dredge up ratepayers will pay more. Speaking of dredging, wasn’t there an easier and cheaper way to deliver water here than to build a tunnel under Lake Mead? Wouldn’t piping or a canal from upriver of the lake been easier and cheaper than this tunnel or piping it from northern Nevada? Arizona has a canal down river that delivers water across the state and so does California. Both require raising water up from the river to make it flow down and Nevada tunnels down to make it flow up? Who hears that Tucson and Los Angeles are worried that Lake Mead is drying up?

  2. They could’ve just dropped a couple hundred thousand siphon hoses into the lake.

  3. Steve says:

    In that NYT piece it was detailed that this current “drought” is really a dropping BACK to natural levels of water flow for the Colorado. Turns out we have been living through a very wet cycle of the river.

    “Studies now show that the 20th century was one of the three wettest of the last 13 centuries in the Colorado basin. On average, the Colorado’s flow over that period was actually 15 percent lower than in the 1900s.”

    Its not a drought, its returning to its normal flow rate.
    Even you missed that part, Tom.

    The real solution is to stop the building and halt the influx of more people than the river can handle.
    If people still want to move to Nevada they can move to the rural areas and those county’s would benefit from the growth.

  4. Yeaa Steve, I am with you there…from my personal preference, I don’t want more California phony liberals moving here and bring with them the illegals from Mexico..Enough is enough !

  5. Steve says:

    Not quite what I stated Eddie….

  6. Vernon Clayson says:

    Who really knows what normal flow is, the river carved the grand canyon over eons. Basically, on the water distribution, Nevada came late to the game, after California and Arizona.

  7. Steve says:

    Well, either its a drought or its not a drought. I am only quoting the “experts”.
    The same ones that claim AGW is causing the drought that is not a drought.

    These guys want to have their cake and eat it too.

  8. In the 1920s no one, even Nevadans, ever thought they’d use their water allotment.


  9. […] long argued, is that the supply is treated like a communal commodity instead of something to be sold in an open market where price can dictate supply to the highest and best use. Today the few remaining editorialists […]

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