Friday, Oct. 24, 2014 | 2:01 a.m.
We have been living with drought in the Southwest for years, so long that many of us are tuning it out.
The drought, however, has combined with waste to cut the volume of water in the Colorado River and Lake Mead in half. Global warming and climate change may make this a permanent water shortage.
The answer to the Las Vegas water crisis is not the construction of a short-term, quick-fix pipeline to bring ancient and limited groundwater 250 miles to Clark County at a cost to ratepayers of more than $15.8 billion.
Instead, our focus must be on increased water conservation indoors as well as outdoors: growth management, harvest of rainwater and other sustainable solutions.
Additionally, it is imperative that the U.S. Department of Interior work with Nevada and other Colorado River Basin states to address how water in the Colorado River is used.
Currently, about 78 percent is used for highly inefficient irrigation in California and Arizona, much of it for thirsty crops such as alfalfa that are exported overseas. Increasing the efficiency of irrigation, smart changes in crops and a rebalancing of water use among agriculture, wildlife and municipal use is an absolute necessity.
We can find our water balance in Southern Nevada, and we must. Without adequate clean water, Las Vegas will wither as our economy and quality of life suffer.