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I mentioned in my last post “Things are Heating Up for Heads on a Pike” that Las Vegas is building another straw below the existing water intake pipes which are in danger of going dry due to a sinking water line in the Colorado River and Lake Mead. Since Vegas gets 90% of its drinking water from the river, its evaporation and depletion puts in jeopardy not only that city but also the 38 million people in the Southwest dependent on the river. If you read the article I linked to, then you’ll know Vegas has been plagued by all sorts of problems like cave-ins and floodings in the construction of this new, longer straw to suck out what remains of a river in critical condition from severe drought and over-usage, both of which are exacerbated by global warming:

The Lake Mead surface level has dropped about 100 feet in elevation since the lake was full in 2000, bureau spokeswoman Rose Davis said. It is about half-full today — displaying a distinctive white mineral “bathtub ring” between the low and high water lines. – source


…water authority General Manager Pat Mulroy has described the third intake project as a race against time. The problem is there is nothing very speedy about construction on this scale.

The finished, 20-foot diameter intake pipe will allow the authority to draw up to 1.2 billion gallons of water a day from Lake Mead even if the surface drops another 90 feet.

It also will give the authority access to the deepest part of the lake, where the coolest, cleanest water is found. – source

The German-buit machine used to dig this new water intake looks like something out of a science fiction movie, over 600 feet long and costing $25 million:

The $25 million tunnel boring machine was designed and built in Germany specifically for the third intake project.

“It’s the BMW of TBMs,” McDonald joked.

The machine crossed the globe on a container ship. It took 61 tractor-trailers to deliver it in pieces from the Port of Long Beach, Calif., to the job site at Lake Mead.

Fully assembled, the machine is the length of two football fields and weighs more than three Boeing 747 jetliners. The cutter head, a ridged platter 231/2 feet tall and studded with disks made from a special alloy, weighs 150 tons all by itself. – source

This project doesn’t come cheap at a cost of $800 million dollars. Now I find it rather humorous when the Vegas customers get their new water bills, causing them to fly off the handle and grab a pitch fork:

A couple of weeks ago, the Las Vegas Valley Water District got an earful from customers about a steep rate hike on businesses.

On Thursday, it was the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s turn.

A handful of angry business owners and residents attacked the rate increase during the authority board’s monthly meeting, and many more people have called and sent letters about their ballooning bills.

The barrage of complaints and concerns prompted Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak to issue an unusual apology of sorts: He didn’t understand what he was voting for when he voted for the rate hike earlier this year.

“I was under a totally different impression when we passed this increase,” Sisolak said.

He said he had no idea that the new infrastructure surcharge he helped approve would boost the monthly bills for some businesses, churches and nonprofits by 200 percent or more. He thought most people would have to pay a flat monthly increase of about $5.

If he didn’t know then, he certainly does now…

…Sisolak and others are trying to speed up a planned review of the charge, which was originally supposed to be done as part of a larger planning process over the next year and half by a new citizens committee being assembled.

Sisolak said some water customers may not be able to wait that long.

“What I’m hearing from the business community is they’re not going to make it 18 to 20 months,” he said.

McAnallen said something needs to be done. The business owners he is talking to can scarcely afford the current surcharge, which is slated to last for the next three years. If no other solution is found by 2016, the charge will have to be doubled to cover the authority’s debt load, he said.

Authority officials have acknowledged that the surcharge affects businesses more than residents, but they said the new fee is necessary to pay down roughly $2.5 billion in construction debt and finish funding an $800 million intake being built to keep water flowing to the valley even if Lake Mead continues to shrink.

Such projects used to be paid for with the spoils of growth, namely connection charges from new homes and commercial buildings. When growth stopped, so did the water authority’s primary source of construction money.

It’s not just business owners who are complaining about the surcharge.

While the average single-family home saw its bill go up by about $5, some older homes with larger lots and water lines took a bigger hit.

Lifelong Las Vegas resident Mary Joy Alderman lives in a 60-year-old downtown home that sits on an acre of land served by a 1-inch water meter. She said her bill just jumped to about $36 though she has slashed her monthly water use to around 1,000 gallons – less than a tenth of what the average home consumes – and doesn’t water her landscaping at all…

Did you read that:

“Such projects used to be paid for with the spoils of growth, namely connection charges from new homes and commercial buildings. When growth stopped, so did the water authority’s primary source of construction money.”

Now this falls in line with the analysis that suburbia is one giant Ponzi scheme, as argued here.

Now I want to go back and talk also about one of those heads that belongs on a pike. One of the major problems facing industrial civilization and mankind is the failure to be honest with ourselves. And that problem is compounded when you are not given the facts of your predicament. The captains of industry who benefit from business-as-usual like to keep the public in the dark and brain-washed about free-market capitalism, a dogma that has brought the planet to its knees and the continued existence of the Homo-Sapien species into question. Gina Rinehart, the richest woman in the world, is a case in point:

Addressing a libertarian think-tank in Perth last July, the British climate change sceptic Christopher Monckton urged Australians to create a home-grown version of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. The “super-rich”, he said, should invest in the media, install like-minded commentators and give the country “a proper dose of free-market thinking.

Lord Monckton’s visit was part-funded by one of his biggest Australian fans, Gina Rinehart, the multi-billionaire iron ore magnate. A year on, Ms Rinehart – the country’s wealthiest individual – is on the verge of becoming its newest media mogul, a prospect that is sending a chill through newsrooms, boardrooms and the corridors of government…

…Rinehart never gives interviews. But her values – pro-free market, cheap foreign labour and tax concessions for mining, and anti-government regulation, red tape and climate change science – are well known…

“She regards journalists as either socialists or communists,” says Paul Barry, an investigative journalist and author. “Not only does she know nothing about the media business, but she doesn’t understand or sympathise with the media.

“I think she would be considerably worse than Rupert Murdoch as a proprietor, not least because she’s coming into a newspaper [group] with an entirely opposite stance to the one she would like it to take.”

This lady’s mindset sounds almost cartoonish in its prejudice and ideological bent. Firstly, she can’t possibly understand what freedom of the press means other that the dictate of ‘freedom to buy the press’ and convert it into a mouthpiece for her wealth-extraction agenda. Secondly, Mrs Rinehart and her ilk don’t acknowledge the reality that capitalism cannot exist without the ability to pollute freely and externalize as much costs as possible onto the environment and communities in which she does not reside. But as I said in Tuesday’s post, the über wealthy will not be spared from escalating climate chaos. Thirdly, capitalism cannot exist without cheap and plentiful fossil fuels of which we are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel as evidenced by more extreme and environmentally destructive measures such as tar sands, deep-sea drilling and gas fracking. Fourthly, capitalism depends on infinite growth to survive, as explained here. Euan Mearns talked about the death of capitalism recently at the 2012 ASPO meeting. Jeremy Grantham also sees the problems with capitalism coming down to debt, politics, environmental damage, and inhumanity.

Capitalism ultimately leads to barbarism and heads on a pike for those not willing to face harsh certainties.