Here's some more proof that desalination is less costly than the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) watergrab pipeline:
The Carlsbad Desalination Plant, in Southern California, recently raised 922 million dollars for the construction of the project. They intend to be producing 50million gallons of fresh water (from salt water) a day by 2016. That is the equivalent of 56,000 acre feet per year.
On the other hand, the SNWA intends to spend 15 billion dollars on a pipeline network to steal water from Rural Nevada – that will acquire them about 160,000 acre feet per year (with the present proposed wells – if the drought ends).
Unfortunately, the numbers aren't as simple as this example. But from this example; it becomes obvious that desalination is well worth seriously considering.
...For a number of years, SNWA has been telling us that the watergrab pipeline would only cost 3 to 3.5 billion dollars. But, when required by law to tell the truth; SNWA reported to the Nevada State Engineer that the watergrab would actually cost 15 billion dollars. (That's actually only twice what they had been telling us because the 15 billion dollar fee also includes finance charges.)
The Carlsbad Desalination Plant costs likely do not include finance charges either. So, we could assume that since finance charges approximately doubled the watergrab construction costs, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant will likely cost in the neighborhood of 2 billion dollars.
OK... to get approximately the same amount of water from desalination using Carlsbad Desalination Plant technology would cost about 6 billion dollars.
6 billion dollars vs. 15 billion dollars
This information infers that watergrab water will cost between two and three times what desalination costs. And the price of desalination just keeps getting cheaper.
The projected cost of the water from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant is between $2,014 and $2,257 per acre foot. I have never seen an estimate for water cost from the watergrab. Personally, I don't think SNWA wants us to know this. Because of the SNWA history of not quite telling the whole truth, (remember the 3.5 billion dollar cost story from a couple of paragraphs ago) I wouldn't bother to trust their numbers anyway. But we can guesstimate.
For an example; SNWA has paid as high as $9,865 an acre foot from water from Virgin Valley Water District! There is no way SNWA will sell that water for $2,000 an acre foot. My warning to Las Vegans; expect very very high water bills.
Now of course; energy costs are high for desalination. But SNWA never mentions the cost of pumping water half way across the 7th largest State in the Nation. Oh, you thought that $15,000,000,000 was all Southern Nevadans would have to pay? No. The energy costs will be horrendous. And SNWA has a record of about 30% cost overruns on their construction projects. Which means a city will be burdened with more like 20 billion dollars plus billions in energy costs.
Oh, and by the way; the people of Las Vegas already have enough water for their present population. The people of Las Vegas are being conned into paying for water for growth – that mean's Las Vegans will be paying for the rest of their lives for water for someone else!
If SNWA were to pay for desalination facilities on the Pacific Coast in exchange for more water from the Colorado River, not only would the water be much cheaper, but no pipeline would be necessary.
Don't believe the “Shock Doctrine” hype. The Colorado River won't dry up. Even with less flow, there is still plenty of water to bargain for. And if the Colorado River were to dry up, the water in the Great Basin would be a critical contingency safeguard. My advice to Las Vegas; save the underground water for when you really need it. Make more fresh water. Obviously, then there will be more water.
And if SNWA were to pay for desalination facilities off the coast of California, environmental damage to the Coast would be negligible.
With the cost savings of desalination, SNWA could offer California more water at no expense to Californians.
With desalination done right; for less money, everyone could have more water.
Personally, I think there should be a National policy to encourage desalination to benefit all communities along our waterways.