All the Water the Law Allows
Las Vegas and Colorado River Politics
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
In the state with the smallest allocation of the Colorado’s water supply, Las Vegas faces the twin challenges of aridity and federal law to obtain water for its ever-expanding population. All the Water the Law Allows describes how the impending threat of shortage in the 1980s compelled the five metropolitan water agencies of greater Las Vegas to unify into a single entity. Harrison relates the circumstances of the SNWA’s evolution and reveals how the unification of local, county, and state interests allowed the compact to address regional water policy with greater force and focus than any of its peers in the Colorado River Basin. Most notably, the SNWA has mapped conservation plans that have drastically reduced local water consumption; and, in the interstate realm, it has been at the center of groundbreaking, water-sharing agreements.
Yet these achievements do not challenge the fundamental primacy of the Law of the River. If current trends continue and the Basin States are compelled to reassess the river’s distribution, the SNWA will be a force and a model for the Basin as a whole.
“Harrison succinctly outlines the political machinations behind western water policies and capably summarizes the history of land use in southern Nevada…He draws attention to important debates about water use and overuse in the western states and clearly highlights political maneuvers that continue to shape water policy today.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly