The Southern Nevada Water Authority, the water agency for Las Vegas, Henderson, and N. Las Vegas has applied to pump up to 200,000 acre-feet annually from eastern Nevada and send it through 300 miles of 8 foot diameter pipe to support the area's uncontrolled growth. The cost is currently estimated at $15 billion dollars. Just how much water is 200,000 acre-feet annually? It is more than 65 billion gallons of water – every year.
Map: Proposed Clark, Lincoln and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project
Map: Shows areas of current cultural use and interest as identified by CTGR elders (colored areas), overlaid with the water table drawdown impact area (red line). Click the map for a closer look.
SNWA claims that it can pump and permanently remove the water from eastern Nevada's desert valleys without any harm to people or to wildlife. Independent hydrologists contend that mining and exporting so much water will cause major environmental degradation and destroy the livelihoods of rural residents and tribal communities in eastern Nevada and western Utah. The area affected by the massive pumping proposal is home to National Wildlife Refuges in Nevada and Utah, state wildlife management areas, Great Basin National Park, Native American communities and dozens of agricultural communities who have been living within the constraints of the regions’ limited water supplies for over a century.
The proposed pumping would bring two hundred or more wells with power lines, roads, and pipelines though several valleys which are isolated and ecologically intact. Communities like Baker, Nevada on the Utah border would have large production wells in their backyard sending local water to a city 300 miles away. The Goshute Tribe and ranchers throughout the Snake Valley believe that water they depend on for their agricultural as well as cultural livelihoods will "dry up" if the project is approved.
* Some information provided by Great Basin Water Network.
View SNWA's Conceptual Plan of Development
Nevada State Engineer Water Rights Hearing
The purpose of the water rights hearing was for the State of Nevada to determine if there is excess water available in Spring, Cave, Delamar, and Dry Lake valleys available for pumping. The Nevada State Engineer is in the process of assessing whether to grant a quantity of water (92,000 acre feet) for interbasin transfer of those rights to SNWA. Protestants presented their arguments on water availability and rights, cultural and ecological impacts, pipeline necessity, and more.
The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute assembled a legal team that presented evidence that the granting of water rights to SNWA will impede on federally recognized Goshute water rights. Not only will SNWA’s acquisition of water rights impede legal specifications on tribal water rights, but also the granting of rights to SNWA threatens the very livelihood and future of Goshute culture.
Since the hearing has concluded, The Nevada State Engineer, Jason King will have until March 2012 to make a decision on how much if any water rights to approve to SNWA.
On October 7th, several members of the Goshute tribe as well as Ely Shoshone representatives boarded the "Groundwater Express" en route to Carson City in order to attend the oral comment period in front of the Nevada State Engineer. Check out the Media and Publications tab for more info.
The Goshute legal team presented in front of the Nevada State Engineer on November 14th, ending the following day on the 15th.
Bureau of Land Management's Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The NEPA review process enables the United States Federal Government to assess a proposed development project’s effect on the environment. Any development project proposed on public or federal land is subject to the NEPA review process.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) received an application from the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) for a right-of-way (ROW) permit to provide access to public lands for the purpose of constructing and operating pipelines, power lines, and ancillary facilities for groundwater conveyance. These facilities are associated with groundwater rights currently in application status with the Nevada State Engineer. This groundwater (up to 176,655 acre-feet per year) would be withdrawn in central-eastern Nevada and transported via pipeline to the Las Vegas Valley.
View and Download the DEIS by clicking on the image.