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Stakeholder Analysis of Las Vegas (redirected from Stakeholder Analysis of Southwest US)

Page history last edited by Logan Kendle 12 years, 2 months ago

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There are many stakeholders involved in the water problems of Las Vegas.  The first main stakeholder is the Nevada state government, due to the fact that the federal government does not interfere with state water rights issues.  Traditionally, the formation of laws and regulations regarding the Colorado River has been carried out by the individual states.  For example, the Colorado River Compact was created in 1922 by the seven states in the Colorado River Basin.  7.5 million acre-feet were allocated to the Lower Basin states, California, Arizona, and Nevada.  This compact was signed at a time when there were 15 million acre-feet of available water per year in the Colorado River. 15 million acre-feet of water has only been held in the Colorado River system twice in recorded history, including 1922 and 1983.  For this reason it is possible for less water to be available than has been allocated.  The states of the Upper and Lower Basins were given the opportunity to distribute allocations without the intercession of the federal government.  An exception was when the Lower Basin states could not come to an agreement, so they took it to the US Supreme Court (Gelt, 1997).  The result of the Supreme Court decision for Nevada was that they would be allocated 300,000 a-f of Colorado River water per year, and this allocation has not changed since.  According to Joe Gelt of the Water Resources Research Center, “Southern Nevada anticipates that the state's 300,000 a-f Colorado River allocation along with its groundwater resources will meet its needs only until about 2015... [and] Future situations no doubt will arise to further challenge the legal and institutional arrangements regulating the Colorado River” (Gelt, 1997).  This agree with the problem statement that Nevada's growing population will soon drive water demand above which can be supplied by their allocation.

The state government’s interest in the water shortages of the lower Colorado River is hinged upon its interest in the economic prosperity of the state and the well being of its citizens.  A government limit on water usage would be perceived as contrary to the role of protecting citizens and the economy.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Water limitations could affect tourism, real estate development and human health and could result in the loss of billions of dollars” (NCSL, 2008). The Colorado River Commission of Nevada was created to represent and act for the state in all issues related to the Colorado River (Chapter 538). The CRC is funded by the sale of water and electricity to its contractors, and earns interest from investments made by the state treasurer. The chairman of the CRC has the authority to formulate agreements between Nevada and Arizona regarding Colorado River water allocation during times of shortage. The chairman is also authorized to execute agreements between the seven Colorado River states “regarding Colorado River reservoir operations and management” (CRC, 2007). According to the University of Nevada, the federal policies regarding water use have been designed to motivate development, and they rarely take into consideration the limitation of natural resources such as water.  Federal policy has encouraged regional development to such a degree that water availability has become a limiting factor on further development.  For this reason the laws and regulations regarding water use must be reevaluated to ensure the sustainability of water.  In summation, “Strategic planning of water use will be a necessity in order to supply homes, commerce and agricultural activities. Conservation efforts, in consort with water quality management efforts, will be needed to balance water demands” (U Nevada, 2005).




Another major group of stakeholders is the agricultural industry of Nevada.  The largest agricultural advocacy organization in Nevada is the Nevada Farm Bureau.  Regarding water, the NVFB supports the right of the states to determine water rights as opposed to the federal government, which is largely in line with how water rights have been determined in the past.  They do not support any diversion of water from agriculture to urban development, because is has the “potential to create soil erosion, noxious weed invasions, wild fire and atmospheric particulate matter at a level never before witnessed in Nevada, if left unchecked” (NVFB, 2011).  This potential environmental damage “invariably occur[s] when irrigated land is retired from production.”  The NVFB believes that the parties involved in the reallocation of water should pay to “ensure the establishment of permanent vegetation” on the land which no longer can be used for agriculture.

The primary reason that agriculture is a stakeholder relevant to Las Vegas is that the water used for agriculture is a potential future water source for Las Vegas. Should Las Vegas ever need more water than they are currently allocated from Lake Mead they may attempt to take water presently used for agriculture.  Agriculture in Nevada consumes almost none of the Colorado River’s water, and draws the majority of its water from groundwater sources in northern Nevada.

{various diversions of water to LV}



Citizens of Las Vegas

The 300,000 acre-feet of water per year that is taken from the Colorado River by Nevada is used primarily for residential and commercial uses in Las Vegas.  In southern Nevada near Las Vegas, 83 percent of water is used for residential purposes, 8 percent is used to irrigate golf courses, schools, and parks, 8 percent is used on hotels, and 10 percent is used on commerce and fire protection. Adding these numbers up, this means that about 86 percent of water in southern Nevada is used for residents. (U Nevada, 2005).  The document does not specify where the remaining 14 percent of the water goes.  The citizens of Las Vegas were chosen as a stakeholder because they are heavily impacted by the amount of available water in the region.  The citizens do not have the organization of the other stakeholders, and their only power is in the election of government officials.



Tourism Industry

This stakeholder group includes casinos, hotels, golf courses, tourists themselves, and other businesses which exist to accommodate them.  Las Vegas' economy is extremely reliant on tourism.  According to the Nevada Commission on Tourism, "Nevada's travel industry generated $58 billion" in 2007.  Many of the hotels and tourist locations use large amounts of water for aesthetic purposes such as dancing fountains and watering lawns.  These businesses believe this use of the region's water is necessary for the city to remain such a popular tourist attraction.  Tourism is a high power stakeholder because it is the primary economic driver in Las Vegas.  



               Description of each group’s mental model
               A mental model is a way of looking at an issue form the viewpoint of one of the stakeholders. This allows an understanding of their actions that is different from an outsider's. By looking at a groups goals, actions, system state variables (their mean for measuring success) and reason for thinking that their actions affect their goal; it is possible to develop a more intimate understanding of the whole problem.


               In summary of the information presented in the table below, the state government, citizens, and the tourism industry would all like to see economic growth and increased water usage in Las Vegas.  However, since increased use is not sustainable using Lake Mead as a primary source, these three stakeholders will have to, and try to, agree on ways to stop further expansion of water usage.  This would be in agreement with people involved in agriculture in the area surrounding Las Vegas because Las Vegas has recently begun to acquire rights to take water from rural Nevada.

Name of Group

Their goal

Indicators of Progress toward their Goal

Their actions to achieve their goal

Their reasoning that connects their actions to the goal

State Government To provide enough water and  a stable system of laws that allows citizen to be free and have an opportunity to be successful. The economy Allowing the issue on new water withdraw permits by the state Engineer.
Recycling water so that it can be used again by citizens and industry.
More water means more ability for businesses to make money and expand. This is good for the economy and a good economy helps the citizens of Nevada be more prosperous.
Agriculture Industry To maintain their present water allotments to use for growing food and to protect the interests to the investors in the industry.
Their water allotments and their level of profit. Aggressively fighting when their water allocations are threatened and by working with he “first in time, first in right” philosophy of Nevada law. If they can maintain the amount of water that they have. They can continue to grow food and make a profit.
Nevada Citizens To have enough water to maintain their way of life. Easy, safe and regularly available water. Little action has taken place on behalf of the citizens a a whole. They have their drinking water to maintain their lifestyle, so there is no reason to act. It they were to act it would be because they would feel that it is their basic American right to have water and use it as they see fit within their lifestyle.
Tourism Indusrty To make a profit by having enough water to support all the guests that Las Vegas welcomes. Their ability to make a profit. People affiliated with tourism have gone north into the agricultural regions of Nevada to attempt to secure water allocations so that they might be able to pipe the water back to Las Vegas. Without enough water, the tourism industry will not be able to make a profit. It is their interest to protect the interests of their shareholders by having enough water to welcome guests to Las Vegas.



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