Energy, water and just getting along

On April 1, UNLV hosted the North American Energy-Water Nexus Roundtable. Co-sponsored by the Desert Research Institute and the Canadian Consulate of Los Angeles, the event brought together people who think about how energy and water issues effect relationships with Mexico, Canada and the United States.

The roundtable was divided into two portions, focusing separately on the United States’ northern and southern borders. Dr. Tom Piechota, associate vice president for interdisciplinary research at UNLV, helped organize the event. He says there are several reasons why this stuff is important to Las Vegans. “The U.S. obtains much of our foreign oil from Canada, about 25 percent, so they are an important strategic partner for us, since most of us drive vehicles that require gas,” he says. “New treaties with Mexico may help with future agreements where Mexico and the U.S. may establish ways to share water of the Colorado River basin that benefit both countries. For instance, if the right treaties are in place in the future, it could be made possible that a U.S. state, like Nevada, pays for water conservation projects in Mexico and that state would receive credit for the saved water. We get 90 percent of our water from the Colorado River, so this is an important issue for us.”

A couple other reasons why we should be paying attention: The Colorado River basin is in its driest period in the last century. Some experts thought the odds were good we’d have a water shortage in the next few years, while others opined that although we may not run out of water, we could run out of cheap water.