We’re in this together

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By Optic Editorial Board

We fully realize that the city of Las Vegas and the East and West school districts are separate entities.

But we need to forget about that when the issue is water.

In  recent weeks, city officials have made presentations to both school boards, requesting they give up their water rights to the city.
For free.

The city made the same request a few years ago, but didn’t get any response.

Both school districts have water rights that they may have entirely used at one time, but these days, they don’t use some of that available water.

Meanwhile, the city has a long-term water supply problem. The possible solutions are expensive; in other words, taxpayers could be out a lot of money.

The great majority of those taxpayers live in the Las Vegas area, benefitting from the city water supply. And nearly all of the others depend on the Meadow City economically. So they would benefit if the schools cooperated with the city on this matter.

If the school districts don’t use their water rights, they could lose them. That’s what the state engineer warns.

Regrettably, East board members have a good deal of skepticism about the city’s request. Member Phillip Vigil said he was glad the City Schools didn’t take the city’s bait last time because it would have no water rights today. He worried that the Memorial Middle School agricultural program may not have water available.

We think Vigil’s concerns are unfounded. After all, if the City Schools district isn’t using the water, shouldn’t the supply go to the city as a whole? Also, the city could enter an arrangement to make sure treated wastewater gets to the agricultural program.

The city has offered the possibility of exchanging water rights for the treated wastewater, which would be a win-win deal for the community.

We urge the local school boards to seriously consider giving up some of their water rights free of charge. They need to cast aside notions of turf and look to the larger interest.

The city badly needs more water rights, and if our school districts can help, they should.