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Southern Nevada Water Authority's (SNWA) plans to convey millions of gallons of groundwater from central and eastern Nevada to Las Vegas have generated a deluge of legal challenges at the state and federal level. At the state level, the Nevada Supreme Court recently ruled on appeals of Judge Estes' district court decision sought by SNWA and the State Water Engineer; the appeals were pursued to overturn Estes's decision issued on December 10, 2013. As it now stands, SNWA and the State Engineer must comply with the Judge Estes's order and the requirement to demonstrate that SNWA's proposed groundwater mining and export operation will be sustainable and will not cause impermissible impacts on the environment and existing water rights holders, such as ranchers, farmers and local business.

At the federal level, GBWN's appeal of BLM's Record of Decision and Final EIS awaits action in federal district court in Las Vegas. Participating parties challenging the water decisions in court include Nevada and Utah local governments, Tribes, businesses, non-profit organizations (like GBWN) and a long list of citizens who have joined the fight. The legal arguments by the respective parties are presented below.


November October 24, 2016 — Nevada State Engineer Notice of Hearing and Interim Order dated November 28, 2016 [ Page PDF] — State of Nevada State Lawsuit

October 24, 2016 — White Pine County, ET Al.'s Response to SNWA Motion Regarding Schedule, Proper Parties and Offer Of Exhibits, and to CPB Motion Regarding Discovery and Mandatory Presentations of Proposed Written Testimony [5 Page PDF] — GBWN State Lawsuit

October 14, 2016 — Joinder to Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Join United States Department of Interior Bureaus (In the Matter of Applications 53987 Through 53992, Inclusive, Filed to Appropriate the Underground Waters of Spring Valley, Cave Valley Dry Lake Valley, and Delamar Valley, (Hydrographic Basin 180, 181, 182 and 184) Lincoln County and White Pine County, Nevada. State Lawsuit

Related Document: October 13, 2016 - Before the State Engineer, State of Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Water Resources. [Come Now, the Confederate tribes of the Goshute Reservation, The Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, and Ely Shoshone Tribe and in accordance with the October 3, 2016 Interim Order on Pre-Hearing Scheduling, Hereby submits this Motion to Dismiss the matter of SNWA Applications 53987 through 53992 inclusive, and Applications 54003 through 54021, inclusive for failure to Join the United States Department of Interior Bureaus in the present proceeding. In the alternative, the Tribes request the State Engineer to Stay the present proceeding and take no action on the above-referenced water right applications until such time as the United States Department of Interior Bureaus are joined in this proceeding.] PDF 15 Pages State Lawsuit
Declaration of Rupert Steel [7 Page PDF] State Lawsuit

October 03, 2016 — Interm Order On Pre-Hearing Scheduling — Office of State Engineer [PDF, 5 Pages] State Lawsuit




June 02, 2016 — Plaintiffs White Pine County, et al.’s Reply in support of Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant Bureau of Land Management, et al. and Defendant-Intervenor Southern Nevada Water Authority Motions for Summary Judgment: Case 2:14-cv-00226-APG-VCF Document 117 Filed 06/02/16 -- 54 Page Federal lawsuit — Great Basin Water Network, White Pine County, et al.’s [EXHIBIT A]

May 18, 2016 — Plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity’s reply in support of Motion for Summary Judgment; and in Opposition to Defendants’ and Intervenor’s Motions for Summary Judgment: Case 2:14-cv-00226-APG-VCF Document 111 Filed -- PDF 50 pages Federal lawsuit — Center For Biological Diversity

February 26, 2016 — DEFENDANTS’ MOTION [ US BLM & SNWA] FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE CLAIMS BROUGHT BY PLAINTIFFS [ Center for Biological Diversity & White Pine County] ET AL. Federal lawsuit [8 Pages] — United States District Court, District of Nevada

December 18, 2015 — Order on Stipulation Extending the Briefing Schedule in the Federal lawsuit against the Record of Decision (ROD) approving Southern Nevada's (SNWA’s) Pipeline Project — The schedule was extended at the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ). It extends the initial briefing deadlines by about 90 days — United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Southern Division

October 30, 2015 Plaintiffs White Pine County, et al.’s Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment: Plaintiffs White Pine County, Great Basin Water Network, Central Nevada Regional Water Authority, Sierra Club, Baker Water & Sewer General Improvement District, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Utah Rivers Council, Utah Audubon Council, and League of Women Voters of Salt Lake, Utah (collectively, "Plaintiffs") seek summary judgment from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada against Defendants (collectively "BLM" - Bureau of Land Management). Summary judgment is sought concerning BLM's decision for granting to Defendant-Intervenor Southern Nevada Water Authority ("SNWA") a right of way ("ROW") for construction of a pipeline to serve SNWA's Clark, Lincoln, and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project ("GWD Project"). Plaintiffs contend that BLM failed it's duties under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act. Accordingly, Plaintiffs respectfully request the Court to grant Plaintiffs White Pine County, et al.'s Motion for Summary Judgment and issue an order declaring the BLM's approval of the GWD Project and ROW unlawful and vacating the BLM's decision.
Read the Executive Summary: Motion for Summary Judgment [3 Pages PDF]
Read the Motion for Summary Judgment [53 Pages PDF]

May 21, 2015 — In the Supreme Court of the State of Nevada — Orders Denying Petitions For Writ of Mandamus or Prohibition. These orders – issued by the Nevada Supreme Court – deny the Southern Nevada Water Authority's (SNWA) and the State Engineer's petitions for writs of mandamus. The orders follow on the Supreme Court's order in February dismissing SNWA's and the SE's original appeals (see below). The orders require SNWA and the State Engineer to comply with Judge Estes's order issued December 10, 2013. That order imposed a requirement that SNWA must demonstrate and the State Engineer must find conclusively that SNWA's proposed groundwater mining and export operation will be sustainable, and will not cause impermissible impacts on the environment and senior water rights holders. Of note, these are standards that SNWA and the State Engineer themselves have repeatedly conceded [on the record] that they cannot meet because the science does not support such conclusions.
Read the decision issued to SNWS [2 Pages PDF]
Read the decision issued to the State Engineer [2 Pages PDF]
Read GBWN's News Release [2 Pages PDF]

February 06, 2015 — State of Nevada — In The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada: The Nevada Supreme Court has dismissed the appeals filed by the Nevada State Engineer (NSE) and the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) [Appellant/cross-Respondent] on a motion filed by the Corporation of the Presiding Bishops of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [LDS] on behalf of the Cleveland Ranch. The court dismissed the appeals filed by NSE & SNWA of Judge Estes' four point order concerning the State Engineer's decision approving water rights for SNWA's Ground Water Development Project. The Supreme Court found that it lacks jurisdiction over the lower courts order because that order calls for a remand to the State Engineer and therefore is not “final.”
Read the decision, including one dissent [7 Pages PDF]
Read GBWN Press Release!
Press Coverage — Las Vegas Review Journal
Press Coverage — AP

December 03, 2014 — Southern Nevada Water Authority — In The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada: Reply Brief to Answering Briefs of CPB, CTGR and GBWN Protestants [100 Pages]

October 30, 2014 — State of Nevada — In The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada: Reply to White Pine County et al.’s, Corporation of the Presiding Bishop’s, the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation’s, the Ely and Duckwater Shoshone Tribes’ and the Utah Counties’ Answers to the State Engineer’s Petition for Writ of Mandamus [56 Pages]

September 02, 2014 — White Pine County — In The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada: Answer to Southern Nevada Water Authority Petition for Writ of Mandamus, or in the Alternative, Prohibition — With Supporting Points and Authorities [ADVOCATES FOR COMMUNITY AND ENVIRONMENT & WHITE PINE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY]
Read the Answer [PDF, 98 Pages – 630KB]
Response to State of Nevada and Southern Nevada Water Authority Docketing Statements [PDF 5 Pages — 21 KB]

May 30, 2014 — Souther Nevada Water Authority — In The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada: Petition for Writ of Mandamus — Souther Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) [DANIEL F. POLSENBERG, JOEL D. HENRIOD, JUSTIN J. HENDERSON, PAUL G. TAGGART, GREGORY H. MORRISON, GREGORY J. WALCH, DANA R. WALSH]
Read Petition [PDF, 76 Pages – 300KB]

May 29, 2014 — State of Nevada — In The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada: Petition for Writ of Mandamus [CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO Nevada Attorney General - CASSANDRA P. JOSEPH Senior Deputy Attorney General and JERRY M. SNYDER Senior Deputy Attorney General]
Read Petition [PDF, 50 Pages – 3.1MB]

February 25, 2014 — Corporation of the Presiding Bishops of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [LDS] of behalf to the Cleveland Ranch: — In The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada: The "Statement" presented the issues raised in the LDS's own narrow appeal and also presented their response to SNWA’s and the State Engineer’s statement of the issues on appeal.
Read the Docking Statement [PDF 81 Pages, 5 MB]


February 12, 2014 — Vegas Pipeline Foes Sue Feds
A broad coalition of citizens' groups, Native American Tribes and rural governmental entities filed suit today in the United States District Court in Las Vegas seeking to overturn the United States Department of Interior's decision to approve the Southern Nevada Water Authority's Groundwater Development Project and issue a right-of-way for a nearly 265 mile-long pipeline to suck billions of gallons water away from rural areas and convey it to Las Vegas.
Download Press Release (2 Pages)
Read the Lawsuit — Case 2:14-cv-00228 Filed 02/12/14 Page 75 Pages
Administrative Record Indices for the SNWG EIS — Main AR Index [473 Pages, PDF, 1.8 MB]
Administrative Record Indices for the SNWG EIS — Form Letter Emails received by BLM [1,264 Pages, PDF, 4.3 MB]


February 12, 2014 — Lawsuit Filed to Halt Massive Las Vegas Water Grab LAS VEGAS — The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court today to halt a right-of-way needed for the Southern Nevada Water Authority's long-proposed pipeline (commonly known as the "Groundwater Development Project"). If allowed to proceed, the pipeline would siphon more than 27.3 billion gallons of groundwater each year from the desert of eastern Nevada and pump it more than 260 miles to the Las Vegas Valley. The controversial $15.5 billion project would have profound effects on people, wildlife and Nevada's natural heritage
Read the Press Release


January 09, 2014 — Notice of Appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, Appeal of Court Decision of December 13, 2013: Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)
Read the Appeal [PDF, 61 Pages, 345 KB]
Read Exibit A [PDF, 66 Pages, 3.5 MB]
Read the Docking Sgtatement [PDF, 225 Pages, 11 MB]


January 09, 2014 — Notice of Appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, Appeal of Court Decision of December 13, 2013: State of Nevada [CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO Nevada Attorney General - CASSANDRA P. JOSEPH Senior Deputy Attorney General and JERRY M. SNYDER Senior Deputy Attorney General]
Read the Appeal [PDF, 85 Pages, 600KB]
Read the State's Document Statment (2/13/14) [PDF, 23 Pages, 1.2 MB]


December 11, 2013 — GBWN Press Release on NV State District Court Ruling
Court invalidates water rights for Las Vegas pipeline — Baker, Nevada, A Nevada court today resoundingly rejected the Nevada State Engineer’s allocation of some 84,000 acre feet per year of groundwater in four rural valleys that the Southern Nevada Water Authority planned to pump and pipe to Las Vegas.
Download Press Release (1 Pages)


December 10, 2013 — State District Court Judge Robert Estes Ruling
Judge Robert Estes issued a ruling 12-10-2013 in favor of appellants (combined and consolidated cases) in the GBWN/White Pine County lawsuit challenging the State Engineer's rulings on water right applications for the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Spring, Cave, Delamar, and Dry Lake Valleys in Eastern Nevada.
Download Decision (23 Pages 1.0 Mb)


June 10, 2010 — Nevada Supreme Court's Modified Opinion favorable to the Protestants of the Southern Nevada Water Authority's 1989 pumping applications
Download Decision (19 Pages)

September 2009 — Closing the Door on Water Speculations: Nevada’s Adoption of the Anti-Speculation Doctrine — BY Doug Cannon, ESQ.




 Other Resources

July 17, 2013 — A Q & A with environmental lawyer Simeon Herskovits — Simeon Herskovits was once on track to be a lawyer for business interests on Wall Street, but a calling to address critical issues of environmental, social and economic justice brought him to the Southwest. A former staff attorney and director of the Western Environmental Law Center’s southwest office his permanent office is now in Taos, N.M., where he is the president of the firm Advocates for Community and the Environment. He represents Great Basin Water Network, White Pine County and a host of others working to stop the Groundwater Development Program of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the $15 billion plan to pump groundwater from rural Nevada. — Las Vegas City LifeDownload PDF

External Link — Nevada State Engineer’s SCDD hearing Records. This webpage contains information "Stipulations (Stip)" for the Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar Valleys water hearings. For specific information see State Engineer Exhibits 41 (Spring Valley Fed/SNWA Stip), 80 (CDD Valleys Feds/SNWA Stip), and 95 (SCDD Valleys USFS/SNWA Stip). The CDD hearing stip between SNWA and Moapa is at Exhibit 79.

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