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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Editorials: Water wars, Utah vs. Vegas

Above: The water show must go on.

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- Water gamble: Nevada groundwater plan is foolish - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Las Vegas has won approval of the Nevada state engineer to siphon huge amounts of groundwater from beneath valleys to the north and pipe it to Sin City. This is bad news for Utah. It would almost certainly damage the fragile Great Basin ecosystem, its complex groundwater network and water rights in the Beehive State.

On paper, the pumping scheme looks reasonable. It would only proceed after hydrologic and biological studies. The full amounts of water the state engineer has granted could not all be taken at once. Rather, there would be initial withdrawals, followed by monitoring to see how the aquifers and biology were affected. If, after eight years, the effects were not seriously bad, more water could be pumped. There would be more monitoring.

The trouble with this approach is that, unlike surface water in a river, the effects of underground pumping often are not immediately seen. Plants could die off only slowly. Once the damage is apparent, however, it may be irreversible, and the political pressure to keep pumping water south, particularly after Las Vegas had invested billions in the pipeline project, would be enormous. The complaints of a few ranchers in Nevada and the people of Utah would not count for much. ...

- A bad water decision for southwest Utah - Deseret News Editorial

... Some Utah concerns have said they want to appeal the decision to Nevada's district court. That sound like a good course of action. Something this important has to be decided correctly the first time. The stakes are too great to do otherwise.

- Water ruling: State engineer makes good call - Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial

... Meantime, the sincere concerns of central Nevada residents should not be ridiculed, nor need they be. Old-timers well remember the roughshod seizure of water from the Owens Valley, just across the California line, which has been feeding thirsty Los Angeles for nearly a century.

A century later, it should be possible to build many more environmental safeguards into this project -- should it ever be needed. The state engineer is wise to have called for just such measures.

- Paying our own way: Water Authority’s rate increase an example for the rest of the state - Las Vegas Sun Editorial

... For years, the authority and governments across the state have operated under the premise that growth would pay the tab. Modern Southern Nevada was essentially created on the wallets of future generations. ...

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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