This is an archived article that was published on in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Southern Nevada Water Authority head Pat Mulroy would have us believe that she is the voice of reason standing against the emotion and rhetoric of opponents to her pipeline plan.

But the rationale for it is flawed, and the science is not on her side ("Rhetoric aside, Nevada has right to its water," Opinion, Sept. 10).

Mulroy claims the groundwater is "unused"; this is deliberately misleading. The unallocated groundwater she refers to comes from evapotranspiration, the water the plants in the region use, without which they die. Without plants, wildlife will disappear, replaced by dust storms.

Neither is this groundwater "renewable." At the pump rates SNWA proposes, water tables will drop 50 to 200 feet. It will take decades or centuries after pumping ceases for aquifers to recharge. "Environmental safeguards," primarily agreements stipulated to by federal agencies (and potentially Utah), are too vague to mitigate the devastating effects of such aggressive, long-term groundwater mining.

If, as Mulroy says, ocean desalination "will be part of our resource portfolio in the future," why not now? Why ruin the Great Basin first? With improved conservation and efficiency, Las Vegas wouldn't even need the water grab.

Steve Erickson Member, board of directors Great Basin Water Network

Salt Lake City