John Drew: Own the water rights or others will; raw water master plan update will include public participation
We live in a non-linear world. All things around us are changing. To ignore this reality or to fight against those dynamics, does not address the possibility of solutions.
A secure water supply is the foundation upon which our community exists. All aspects of our lives depend on water, from the food we eat to the functioning local economy we enjoy.
The aspects of the Raw Water Master Plan update conservation activities, capital improvement plans and reservoir projects address the full range of an evolving environment to address our issues. Most folks have thought about our water future and the many possibilities therein. The scope and nature of these thoughts vary widely in magnitude and quality. We must measure the many external and internal influences resulting in the many variables to be considered in any solution set.
All of these dynamics were in force when our predecessors worked hard to create the absolutely incredible water system we now enjoy. Their actions have proven to be true, valid and enduring.
The Raw Water Master Plan update that Nevada Irrigation District has begun will analyze supply and demand issues with input from the public during workshops. The workshops for the update will work to inform, educate and listen to the wants and needs of our community, evaluate alternatives and impacts, and develop community-wide solutions for the short-term and long-term needs of the community. This update will chart NID’s course for the next 50 years, and provide a series of optional courses for Board deliberation and adoption.
The plan update and the planning for increasing water storage engage the future in a way that encompasses multiple important goals for generations to come. We have been gifted with the benefit of hindsight. Given the accurate vision of previous NID leaders and the community, combined with an even greater understanding of future needs and benefits, the increasing water storage secures our water supply and the rights to that water which will belong to our community. I am against others from outside of our community controlling the rights to our water.
A drop of water from our system is incredibly important because it brings life, recreation and sustainable carbon-free power to our families. Every drop of water will end up on our farms and gardens, in our environment and fire system, and in our rivers and streams ending in the Bay-Delta. Understanding and embracing holistic solutions to our water supply needs requires an open mind and accepting the responsibility for protecting the same. Water availability goes beyond the kitchen sink and is all important to our local commerce, environment and industry.
Building upon the communities’ existing, very successful system, as we have with NID, allows for even more beneficial effects to be realized over a broad spectrum of water systems that belong to all the taxpayers within the district.
Thousands of acres of land surrounding our reservoirs is protected from development. Protecting the communities’ water rights and acquiring new rights is critical to preserving the lifestyle we have developed here in the foothills for our families.
About 90 percent of the water delivered by NID is raw water that is laid upon the land, and it flows into our lakes, parks, gardens, farms, vineyards, orchards, not to mention the 10 percent that flows into our treatment plants and into our homes. Following these uses, some of the water finds its way into our ponds, creeks, meadows and wildlife areas.
Over time, some water enters the regional groundwater systems. Our community is blessed with a vast water system that benefits all who come in contact with it on a daily basis. Consider that the 4,000 fire hydrants in the district are all supplied water from our reservoirs.
One of my concerns is the small number of folks who are not supportive of our current direction, most of which do not live in the district and do not pay taxes. These people will not to be found if, down the road, we run out of water because of their beliefs. Projects like a new reservoir will be immediately recognized as one of the most dramatic and beautiful reservoirs on the western slopes, and as our history demonstrates, will pay dividends socially, environmentally and economically for generations to come.
We must consider the Law of the Iroquois, which says we must think seven generations ahead and decide whether the decisions we make today will benefit our children seven generations into the future. Making decisions that are cross-generational regarding our water supply security should be our common goal — politics need not apply — our water future is the one thing we cannot afford to gamble with.
It is time to get involved, folks. Own your water, or let others own it for you.
John H. Drew is the director of the Nevada Irrigation District’s Division II.
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