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Captain Kirk intones on … water supply and use?

If you're a fan of Star Trek, you're well accustomed to seeing William Shatner -- Captain Kirk, that is -- dealing precisely and with aplomb to nerve-wracking situations that are literally out of this world.

You probably never saw him offer up suggestions to deal with water shortage, though.

Yet, there he is, prominently espousing in the media a proposed solution -- at least, a partial remedy -- to deal with the documented lack of our most precious natural resource in western states, especially California, Nevada and Arizona.

What Kirk, uh, Shatner would have relevant authorities do to respond to a most sensitive environmental matter is build a pipeline from rain-rich Seattle to Lake Mead outside Las Vegas. Fill up the country's largest reservoir to healthy levels and, presto, problem solved.

Reportedly, and unsurprisingly, officials from Washington State are less than enthused by the idea. As noted in a recent article chronicling the water woes in California and other western states, though, Shatner's proposal has value "in raising awareness among the West's water users."

And, certainly, anything that drives a cogent and high-profile debate on water supply and use in rain-parched areas is welcome.

Lake Mead is critically important for the central role it plays in supplying water to millions of Californians. It also appears to be critically ill, with its water level being dangerously low presently. If things don't improve materially by the end of this year, the provisions of a treaty operative among California, Arizona and Nevada will kick in. Californians won't see an immediate change in use policies, but Arizonans would be required to cut their water consumption by a sizable 11 percent.

Any discussion seeking to identify a natural resource more important than water promises to be a short one.

One water expert and commentator notes that Americans readily identify themselves as state and national citizens.

She says that we need to begin considering ourselves "as citizens of a watershed."

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