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BWD Gives Away the Store in Tiered Rates "Negotiations"

Digger - April 12, 2015

Reopening negotiations on the tiered rate proposal at the eleventh hour because there was an orchestrated, if ill-informed, protest as General Manager Rich Williamson recently did, was unwise, unnecessary, and counter productive.

Mulroy , General Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority, wrote recently in Sunset Magazine about a new water ethic: "What we have to do is create a new ethic around water. You have to make that transition that there's a new tomorrow. There's still a mindset that 'I'm man and I can make nature adapt to me' - and that needs to change." Borregans desperately need to make that transition to a new tomorrow, recognize that they are "not in Kansas anymore,"and embrace the fact that they live in a desert.

The rate structure originally proposed was generous. It would have allowed a given user a maximum of 420 units (314,160 gals. or 96.4% of an acre foot) of water per year. That's a lot of water. One change that might have improved the original proposal is to simplify the rate schedule by doing away with summer/winter allocations, and simply allow 420 units to be used before Tier 2 is triggered, and then another 180 units at Tier 2 rates before entering Tier 3; i.e., base the rate schedule on annual rather than monthly water use.

It is the BWD board's responsibility to guide the district and act as stewards of the aquifer by making informed decisions. They fail in that responsibility and set a bad precedent when they acquiesce to mob rule. Before going forward with any "negotiations"that would weaken and delay implementation of the tiered rate proposal proffered by the BWD, the district should have more carefully assessed the situation.

In particular, they should have determined the actual number of valid protests received and, if that number was less than the number required by law to stop the implementation process for one year, which it was, they should have gone forward with implementation on the original schedule.

Time is not on the side of the aquifer. With respect to efforts to curtail use, sooner is better. Delay favors the irresponsible. The most expensive option is to do nothing; and the longer we do that the more expensive it will get. Nevertheless, the BWD has come dangerously close to doing nothing - again.

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