Watch Desert Wars September 25, 2006 at 8 pm on KUED Channel 7
Interviewer: What do you think about the future of this issue? How will this issue be resolved in your opinion in the future, I'm talking specifically about communication and resolution.
Amanda Cyphers: I truly believe that the resolution to this issue is basis of communication. We are Nevadans and we stand strong together. We are battle-born and it has been said before, I think Mark Twain that said, "Water is for fighting." But we're not trying to fight against each other, but it is fighting together to make sure that we are providing those assurances for our future. The basis of our future is about that communication line that we have, and as long as we continue to communicate we're going to solve all of these problems. I think in the future these state issues of water that we have here in Nevada, will be resolved due to communication, open-mindedness and working together. It's all about the spirit of cooperation, and there's nothing we can't solve. Knowledge is our power to make sure that we're going to get from here to where we need to be in our future and where we would like to be. We all have a place at that table.
Interviewer: What do you think the rancher's role is in this issue in terms of communication and working with SNWA?
Amanda Cyphers: The one thing that I would have to say that I would ask is for all parties to keep an open mind and make sure that all of the concerns that people have are known by all parties and that we have a good line of communication. It's a two-way street. But overall for us to communicate and keep that open mind that we look for solutions together.
Interviewer: Is there a plan for the future in terms of growth?
Amanda Cyphers: The growth in this valley… we do have unprecedented growth, but I believe if you talk to each one of the entities, you will find that we have a comprehensive plan on growth and how to better balance growth. I can tell you here in the city of Henderson, since 1999 on how we are being better water stewards. We are about to hit our twelve million square foot of turf reduction since 1990, removal since 1990 which is just over equal to 2,000 acre feet of water. And this is just Henderson alone. And we continually strive to look for new and innovative ways on how we can be better water stewards. The type of development that we bring; the restrictions we have regarding outdoor use to indoor water use and how we're planning development or buildings that are going up instead of out, we're taking that all into consideration as we're moving forward so we make sure that how we are growing is wise, and we're being responsible with the opportunity we have been given. I understand the concern of the ranchers when they see exactly what has happened with the Owens Valley. We learn a lot more by our history and by actions more than words. So I understand what they're saying, and I understand their concerns. All I can say is that I know we are going to put our best foot forward to make sure that an Owens Valley issue is not going to happen. It's very important to not just look at our needs, but to make sure that we're providing for all, and that is the last thing that we want to see happen, and we're going to strive and work to make sure that doesn't happen.
Interviewer: Can the ranchers trust the SNWA?
Amanda Cyphers: You know there is always a stigma with government of trust and can you trust government, and obviously the water authority is one of those arms of the government and it can be viewed from people that there is this big arm of government that is wanting to step in to take in what they feel that they need. I can tell you that is not the case. I do understand their concerns and I think it's very natural for us whether it's something that is ingrained in us over time on how we view governments or how we view certain entities on what they want and how we are responded to, so I understand their concerns and it's up to the water authority to continue that line of communication and to prove ourselves every single day that we can work with everyone to make this happen. For government to sit there and say, "Trust me, we know what we're doing" I would be very cynical too and as a citizen I am of the government, but I know that in the chair that I sit, I have to prove myself every day. If I can't prove myself then I don't deserve that trust from you.
Interviewer: What do you think of the term "water grab?" Is that an accurate term?
Amanda Cyphers: With some of the ranchers calling this issue more of a water grab, I get disheartened when we're viewed that way because I see us as more of an opportunity of how we can work together, and I keep going back to that point. We're not here to take anything away from anyone and our number one goal is to take care of our environment. That is something that is near and dear to me, and I'll share with you… there was a President, I think it was our first President Bush who had said, "It is our goal as humans to number one, take care of our environment, number two, our future, and number three, ourselves." And that has stuck with me for a very long time. It's something that I apply as we move forward. This isn't a water grab. This is an opportunity on how we can work with each other to make sure that we all have the opportunities that we all want in the future.
Interviewer: You were talking about your position on the board and what you like about that and what motivated you. That's a very coveted position.
Amanda Cyphers: You know I got involved with the Southern Nevada Water Authority because water issues intrigue me. The whole process of how we get water from point A to point B is just something that I've enjoyed learning about. These processes we build… the magnitude of what we build is so amazing to me, I'm just really intrigued by it, but one of the things that I've liked through my tenure of sitting on the Water Authority, and maybe others might not say that the drought is the most perfect time to be the Chairman of the Water Authority or even be involved with the Water Authority Board, but I've seen it as a wonderful time that we've refined ourselves and educated ourselves. We've learned to be better stewards of water. We've learned to just use that resource and understand how important that resource is. I think one of the downfalls that we have had regarding how we look at water is… I can tell you not of one time, from being born here, to this day that I have ever turned on my faucet and water was not there. So one of our issues or downfalls, I believe as a Water Authority is our success has also become our failure because a lot of people might not see water as such a precious resource because it's always there and it's something that people can take for granted, but I can tell you it's something we've learned about how precious it is and we cannot live without it and we must do what's right, and we will continue to do that for our future. So it has been an exciting time in my tenure because we've learned how to be better and we've taken this challenge and we've faced it head-on and we've come up with solutions. The Water Authority in my early years was a coveted board to sit on, but as the drought issues were coming to play, not so many people wanted to sit at that table, and not so many people wanted to take that position as chair. It was something that I've continued to be for the last years, and I see it as an exciting time because we've been able to look at those challenges and to come up with solutions and to do what's better for our community in the future, and it gets no better than that. I truly feel that from the bottom of my heart and I hope you can see that I'm really passionate about what we've learned. It's all about education and it has been a great thing for our community.
Interviewer: What's the biggest misconception about Las Vegas and its booming growth?
Amanda Cyphers: I would probably say that the biggest misconception about Vegas valley regarding the government as we continue to grow is that we maybe don't care about other's concerns. I know that it's true that we do care about other's concerns. Maybe there's the booming conception that we don't care about our environment as a whole, but I can tell you we do and it's on the forefront of our minds and maybe one of the booming concerns is that we're not going to do what is right for the state as a whole and I can tell you that's not true. I can tell you we do care about the state as a whole. We want to have the opportunity to work with people. We're not here to railroad a plan to take anything away from each other. We're asking to work with people so that we all have an opportunity.
Interviewer: Would you as a rancher make that sacrifice so that millions benefit in terms of the economy and jobs? Taking resources from the rural area to a big metropolis?
Amanda Cyphers: Do a few have to sacrifice for the many? I believe that we can work together so there aren't sacrifices on either side, but that we can come to solutions, not sacrifices, that we are all happy with and can all live with. If we follow with outside parameters that don't work, then we can step back to make sure that what we are doing is the right thing.
Interviewer: I know the ranchers are concerned regarding tapping the ground water and the potential pipelines to Las Vegas. What do you think can be done to alleviate fears?
Amanda Cyphers: Well I'm hoping that as we work together we understand those concerns better. We're concerned about that too as the Southern Nevada Water Authority, and I know our goal is to not take anything away. We want to protect that use that they have, but we also want to look at the viability of how we can work together to preserve both of our futures together.
Interviewer: What does water mean to the West?
Amanda Cyphers: Water means everything to the West, but not specifically to the West, but to anyone in the world. We realized throughout the years, and especially because the drought has come upon us, on how to use that resource more wisely. I'll tell you, being someone who was born and raised here, I grew up never knowing where my water came from or how Lake Mead or the Colorado River or allotments and allocations… how that all played. I never would have fathomed as I grew up that I would actually have a play within setting policies and trying to solve problems or that we would be in the situation we are in now with the drought. I think what has happened throughout time, and the good things because of the drought, is the education our valley has received as a whole and how precious that resource is and what we need to do not to waste that resource and what we need to do to assure that our future is taken care of.
Interviewer: Talk a little bit about the economy. What happens to the economy when you artificially start and stop water?
Amanda Cyphers: What happens to the economy when you try to force what it does?
Amanda Cyphers: Well if you're in the Vegas valley as a whole one of the things we've looked at, because we have been targeted as one of the fastest growing places in all of the nation, is how can we better grow and should we look at the mechanics of growth and knowing at times that we have limited resources whether it be air, water or land, is are we doing what is right for our valley as a whole? Someone like me who was born and raised here, I can tell you when this valley was quite small to where now it's quite a large metropolitan area and sometimes people just don't like change so much and maybe sometimes that brought up some of those issues. So it was, I believe about two years ago, when a board was commissioned by a county commission to look specifically at growth, and if it's something we should look at addressing as in stopping, halting or growing a different way or how we go about it, and at the end of the day I think we've all realized that growth is opportunity and opportunity is a gift. You have to allow that opportunity to happen. If you stall that opportunity, people will go other places to grow. Commercial people and the contractors, builders will go other places, and when they leave they take their spouses which are community nurses and teachers and people that we depend on here and we've seen it in other communities in the nation. It's something that you cherish. It's something that you hold. We realize that we have to grow wisely and utilize our resources appropriately. Here at the city of Henderson each one of our elected--we're appointed to certain board that we have throughout the valley—different region boards and some city boards and since I was elected, eleven years now, and for the last nine years I've had the opportunity of serving on the Southern Nevada Water Authority Board of Directors and I believe for the last four or five years, I've had the opportunity of being Chairman.