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In The News, Archives — 2008

Jun. 02, 2008
Southern Nevada Water Authority asked for a water hearing for its applications for 50 thousand acre-feet of groundwater from Snake Valley on May 23 ... and got a hearing scheduled for July 15. The Las Vegas Review Journal story is below. Check out some quotes from Joanne Garret from Baker. (LVRJ) Southern Nevada Water Authority officials have requested a state hearing on the final piece of a massive pipeline project they plan to build to tap groundwater from across eastern Nevada.

And they may have saved the most difficult part for last. The authority is seeking state permission to pump as much as 16 billion gallons of water a year from White Pine County's Snake Valley, more than 250 miles north of Las Vegas.

The vast and sparsely populated watershed on the Nevada-Utah border is home to many of the authority's harshest critics, including ranch families who have lived in the area for generations. ... http://www.lvrj.com/news/19450664.html

May. 07, 2008
The Great Basin Desert of eastern Nevada and western Utah is threatened by plans of the Southern Nevada Water Authority to drill over 200 wells in one of the driest regions of the United States and pipe the water 300 miles to Las Vegas. If permitted by the State of Nevada and the Bureau of Land Management, Las Vegas would pump up to 85 billion gallons of water each year from rural valleys adjacent to the Great Basin National Park and National Wildlife Refuges. The groundwater would be piped through a huge, buried pipeline network and supported above ground by hundreds of miles of power lines and roads. The groundwater exported from eastern Nevada's desert valleys by the Southern Nevada Water Authority would enable more sprawl development in the Las Vegas Area further impacting Las Vegas residents with congestion, pollution, and a poorer quality of life.

Rural communities would be destroyed by the loss of water. Unique wildlife dependent on small streams, wetlands, and regional springs would be threatened or exterminated. Tens of thousands of acres of desert vegetation would be killed by the pumping.

Las Vegas could save 40 billion gallons each year with conservation actions similar to those employed in Tucson and other desert cities says a report by the respected Pacific Institute. Water conservation and efficiency improvements are vastly less expensive and will preserve our rural landscapes and wildlife.

We the undersigned ask decision makers with the Nevada State Engineer's Office and the Bureau of Land Management to not permit the Southern Nevada Water Authority to proceed with their destructive pump and export project. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/NoWaterGrab/index.html

May.06, 2008
THE BIG SIP STALLS (KCPW News) Negotiations have stalled in a debate between Nevada and Utah over the ownership of water in a massive underground aquifer spanning both states. Las Vegas wants to tap the area's deep carbonate aquifer, but the plan could be environmentally catastrophic for the entire Great Basin region, says Steve Erickson of the Great Basin Water Network.

Apr. 17, 2008

Apr. 08, 2008
In a region increasingly plagued by drought and water shortages, conserving water has become not only a virtue but the standard. How to get Clark County water users to live up to that standard isn’t entirely clear.

That’s why in addition to mandatory watering days, ordinances banning front lawns in some new neighborhoods and successful grass buyback programs, the county’s largest water district is adopting “conservation pricing.” The concept is simple: If you want people to use less water, make it more expensive, especially for those who use the most.

Apr. 08, 2008
... In case the Sun hasn't been told, cost is no longer an issue for the authority. The $1 billion dollar pipeline project is now a $3.5 billion pipeline project, and could go as high as $12 billion to $20 billion by the time it's done. It doesn't matter, Mulroy said on TV. We can't afford not to build it, no matter what it costs, she says. ...

For the record, then, any alternative to the pipeline should also be exempt from any consideration of cost, especially desalting plants, which could provide Las Vegas with an endless supply of water, something the proposed water grab cannot do. At best, the massive pipeline will provide water for a few decades. At worst, it might suck rural Nevada dry much sooner than that, although by the time the damage is done, Mulroy and crew will be long gone, and ... [Note: scroll down to the "pipeline or nothing" article on the web page.] http://www.lvcitylife.com/articles/2008/04/03/opinion/knappster/iq_20697743.txt

Apr. 04, 2008
For the first time, desert town sees its water won't last forever. (Note: Las Vegas lost its name sake "meadows" and springs to pumping 60 years ago...) The desert oasis of Borrego Springs has long seemed immune to Southern California's periodic water shortages, thanks to an aquifer that keeps the town's groves, yards and golf greens lush even in the searing summer heat. Borrego Springs residents use about twice as much water on average as homeowners elsewhere in San Diego County, according to the Borrego Water District. The agency has some of the lowest residential rates in Southern California, giving its customers little financial reason to cut back. Each year, water users in the Borrego valley remove roughly five times more water from the aquifer than it collects. ... http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080404/news_1n4borrego.html

Apr. 01, 2008
Developer Harvey Whittemore wants to pump rural Nevada water to a huge, $30 billion development he’s building about 50 miles north of Las Vegas. Have we not learned the lessons of Owens Valley? The impacts will not be "conservative" as Nevada's most agressive developer claims. Read how he bullies on to create his own Cadillac Desert...note astute reader comments. http://news.rgj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880401004

Mar. 29, 2008
Report shows increase in the Colorado River Basin more than twice the global average. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Death Valley-like daytime highs and hot nights in Utah and the West last summer reinforced the Southwest's status as ground zero for deadly global climate disruption, a new report says.

Using government data collected over five years, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization show that Utah and Arizona are heating up faster than anywhere else in the world, with the other Southwestern states close behind. The report released Thursday shows that from 2003 to 2007, the average temperature in the Colorado River Basin, stretching from Wyoming to Mexico, was 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the historical average for the 20th century. The accelerating temperature increase was more than twice the global average increase of 1.0 degree during the same period. Only in the Arctic are temperatures climbing faster than they are in the West. ... http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_8725597

Mar. 24, 2008
(Las Vegas; LV RJ) Under a sweeping agreement signed in December by the seven Colorado River states, water managers in Las Vegas won the right to tap the Virgin River without having to build even an inch of new pipeline. Now the Southern Nevada Water Authority is moving to secure as such of that worry-free water as it can.

Through a series of swaps and purchases approved last week with water users in the Mesquite area, the authority has increased the amount of water it can take from the Virgin River to about 5,000 acre-feet a year. .... http://www.lvrj.com/news/16948516.html

Mar. 24, 2008
Eyewitness News I-Team worked on a television special titled "Crossfire: Water, Power, and Politics." This was an in-depth examination of how Las Vegas growth is going to affect vast areas of the American Southwest. Rural Nevada is facing two dramatic challenges, both of which are directly related to our community's relentless growth.

One proposal would siphon billions of gallons of water from environmentally-sensitive but politically weak rural counties. At the same time, plans are moving forward to build three, massive coal-fired power plants in the same areas. Most rural residents believe their land, their air and their way of life are threatened by both.

Las Vegas leaders say the economy of the entire state could collapse if the plans are thwarted. No matter which side is right, our state will never be the same. Every resident, every business, whether urban or rural, has a direct stake in the outcome.

The issues involved are the most important of our time; global warming, conservation, growth, sustainability, economic justice versus economic realities, how to plan for the future. The decisions made in the next few years will affect the lives of millions of people for the next century and beyond, so it's important to get it right.

The I-Team has been working on the story for more than five years. The program included interviews with all sides -- elected officials in Las Vegas and the rural residents, environmentalists, scientists, ranchers, business owners, energy executives, water experts, Native Americans, proponents, opponents, and our political analyst Jon Ralston, who helped sort it all out. ... http://www.klas-tv.com/Global/story.asp?S=8035228&nav=menu102_2_1

Mar. 21, 2008
KLAS-TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegs will present "Crossfire: Water, Power, and Politics." from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 22 It will also air on Las Vegas One, Channel 19, at 2:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday, March 23.

This is an in-depth examination of how Las Vegas growth is going to affect vast areas of the American Southwest. Rural Nevada is facing two dramatic challenges, both of which are directly related to our community's relentless growth.

One proposal would siphon billions of gallons of water from environmentally-sensitive but politically weak rural counties. At the same time, plans are moving forward to build three, massive coal-fired power plants in the same areas. Most rural residents believe their land, their air and their way of life are threatened by both. Las Vegas leaders say the economy of the entire state could collapse if the plans are thwarted. http://www.lasvegasnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=8035228

Mar. 18, 2008
ST. GEORGE — For the first time in years, voters in Utah's Dixie could have a real race on their hands for a seat on the three-member Washington County Commission.

A political newcomer, Democrat Lin Alder, who recently stepped down as executive director of Citizens for Dixie's Future, is challenging Republican incumbent Alan Gardner.

The nonprofit group is actively campaigning against the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Toquop coal-fired power plant in Nevada. Alder's public relation skills helped propel the fledgling citizen's group to the forefront in public conversations, with environmentalists and others who claim an interest in "smart growth" initiatives ... (Nancy Perkins; Deseret Morning News) http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695262527,00.html

Mar. 16, 2008
(PATRICE ST. GERMAIN; patrices@thespectrum.com) HURRICANE, UT - Following a crooked path from Sand Hollow Reservoir to the Kanab Creek, a helicopter travels along the proposed route for the Lake Powell Pipeline.

Stretching for 120 miles, the pipeline, if built, will bring 100,000 acre feet of water per year to Washington, Kane and Iron counties.

With an estimated price tag of $585 million in current dollars, that's $4.87 million a mile, a cost that will be borne by new development, at least in Washington County. .... Yet some don't believe the pipeline is needed. ... http://www.thespectrum.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080316/NEWS01/80316001

Mar. 12, 2008
CARSON CITY (AP) - The federal government has dropped its opposition to a bid by wealthy Reno businessman and powerbroker Harvey Whittemore to get rural Nevada water for a huge development he's building about 50 miles north of Las Vegas.

Tuffy Ranch Properties filed about 50 applications with the state water engineer to change its existing underground water rights in Lake Valley from irrigation to domestic use. About 11,000 to 12,000 acre-feet of water a year would go to Coyote Springs.

The applications also were protested by White Pine County and by Louis Benezet of Pioche and Jo Anne Garrett of Baker, both opponents of efforts to export rural Nevada groundwater.

Benezet and Garrett have questioned whether there will be enough water for the environment and outlying ranches given the efforts by Whittemore and also by the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which is planning a big pipeline to carry rural water to Las Vegas.

Whittemore has said the applications represent "a substantial chunk" of what he needs for Coyote Springs. They amount to more than 20 percent of the estimated 50,000 acre feet of water a year that lan starting March 31, calls for elaborate monitoring to detect any declines in groundwater levels in Lake Valley as a result of the water transfers to Coyote Springs.

Mar. 03, 2008
Forecast Earth (the Weather Channel) takes a look at the new study which says that without changes in management of water releases from the reservoirs on the Colorado River (Lakes Mead and Powell), Lake Mead could be dry by 2021. Have we already reached and surpassed a sustainable population in the southwest?

Feb. 29, 2008

Measuring groundwater in Nevada is part science, part art -- and plenty controversial

Forget labcoats and clipboards and computers. Back in the day, a hydrologist's best tools were a sturdy pickup truck and a good eye for plants. That's what scientists of the United States Geological Survey put to use when teams of them crawled over Nevada in the 1960s and logged an inventory of the water underground.

"They drove around in pickup trucks and mapped out the extent of plants that use groundwater," says Jim Thomas, a research professor with the Desert Research Institute.

See where the greasewood shrubs grow thick along a line in a geographic bowl? There's water below. How much? Oh, about a tenth of an acre-foot. Give or take. http://www.lvcitylife.com/articles/2008/02/28/news/cover/iq_19977472.txt Feb. 29, 2008
More than 80 years ago, seven western states hammered out a pact dividing up the water in the Colorado River. Agriculture was king and Las Vegas just a railroad watering stop in the middle of nowhere. Today, after an eight-year drought, the river is in crisis. Tim Folger traveled from its snow-fed headwaters to the feeble trickle that enters the Gulf of California, asking everyone he met: What comes next?

Snake Valley, Nevada [Elevation 5,300 feet]

Somewhere on the road between the lonely McMansion where the Mormon polygamist's senior wife lives and the dried-up spring where the wild horses died of thirst, I put my foot in my mouth. "How big is your ranch?" I ask Dean Baker, the lean and weathered owner of much of the land around us.

My question seems innocuous enough, but an embarrassed silence envelops the packed Chevy Suburban in which I'm riding with eight Nevada ranchers.

Before Baker can answer, Hank Vogler, a hefty man with a long, droopy gray mustache, interrupts. "Well, that's a bad question," he says. "That's like me asking you what does your wife look like naked. Your reply should be, 'That's none of your damn business.'"

I realize that .... http://www.onearth.org/article/requiem-for-a-river

Feb. 20, 2008
The LV Valley Water District doesn't seem to get it. The idea is to raise the rates of the biggest water users; instead the Clark Co. Commission raised rates on users of less than 5,000 gallons of water per month, too. She also wants golf courses to pay a larger share.

Feb. 24, 2008
For Immediate Release-- conservationists and others concerned about the probable impact of proposed water transfers from rural Nevada to urban Las Vegas are thanking Gov. Jim Gibbons for his public disavowal of the controversial scheme.

“His comments are not just welcome, they could very well signal a new chapter in the public debate over this project,” said Scot Rutledge, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, a statewide conservation group.

Others agreed.

“When the state’s highest elected official, a man who was trained as a professional geologist, says there are problems with your plan, you need to take that seriously,” said Susan Lynn, a coordinator with Great Basin Water Network, a group whose members include farmers, ranchers, elected officials and others from both Nevada and Utah.

Scientists from various disciplines have warned that the Southern Nevada Water Authority plan to take billions of gallons annually from the drought-stricken valleys of rural East-Central Nevada to fuel urban growth in Las Vegas spells probable disaster for fragile rural habitats. Residents of the targeted regions fear that the drill, pump and pipe plans would be disastrous for rural economies and agriculture.

The alliance of concerned groups sent a “thank you” letter Friday to Gov. Gibbons for his comments, first reported in the Lahontan Valley News/Fallon Eagle Standard and later by the Las Vegas Sun. From the letter:

A diverse and broad group of ranchers, business people and conservation citizens thanks you for this statement and applauds your thoughts on needing a water resources inventory as well as scrapping the idea of a pipeline to move water south. These are steps that can begin the process to look for other water supply options and solutions. And we would like to work with you to fund and explore those solutions.

We understand the economic needs of the entire state, not just Las Vegas’ needs. Rural counties are struggling to make ends meet, and water may be their future too.

The coalition opposing the plans, often referred to as the Las Vegas Water Grab, said the governor’s comments could help unify the now-divided state.

“We welcome any future initiatives from the governor, from Southern Nevada, or elsewhere that will help find a water-policy solution that provides for our common needs,” Lynn said.

CONTACT: Susan Lynn, Great Basin Water Network Coordinator, (775) 786-9955, email: sblynn@sbcglobal.net; Scot Rutledge, Nevada Conservation League Executive Director, (702) 562-8147, email: scot@nvgreenvote.org WEBSITES: www.GBWN.org; www.nvgreenvote.org

Feb. 19, 2008

He [Governor Gibbons] touched on water issues and said before the state allocates water, it needs to take inventory of its resource and identify its uses before releasing any surplus. Instead of pitting northern and southern Nevada against each other over water, Gibbons proposed scrapping the idea of a pipeline to move water down south. He suggested the state aid in building water desalinization plants in California and trade water credits on the Colorado River.

"Water in a desert state is the most precious resource we have," Gibbons said. On energy, the governor also urged the state to continue expanding into alternative sources. "The destiny of this state is renewables," Gibbons said. He envisioned Nevada one day becoming energy independent and selling surplus energy to neighboring states. "The future is a whole lot brighter than you read about," Gibbons said. "I'm very proud to be your governor." http://www.lahontanvalleynews.com/article/20080220/News/883505965

Feb. 18, 2008
(North County Times) PALM SPRINGS - The flamboyant mayor of Las Vegas may have opened up a multistate water war last week, when he said "no one is going to allow us to go dry" and vowed to go after Southern California's water, it was reported today.

Mayor Oscar Goodman's comments come as officials from Wyoming to Mexico contemplate the prospect of a shriveling Colorado River, where global climate changes might dry up much of the vast water supply for people from Tucson to Tijuana, and Denver to Los Angeles.

Goodman reportedly said last week that farmers in California "will have their fields go fallow before our spigots run dry." Those comments were made last Thursday, when the Las Vegas mayor was asked for comment about a new climate study that predicts such diminished flows in the Colorado River that Lake Mead and Lake Powell will be sucked dry.

"We'll see you at the battlefront," Goodman was quoted as saying by the Desert Sun newspaper of Palm Springs.

Battles over Colorado River supplies are not new. In 1934, Arizona's governor sent the state's National Guard to the Colorado River to prevent Los Angeles from building Parker Dam, and removed the troops only after a federal court ordered an end to hostilities.

In California, Coachella Valley Water District general manager Steve Robbins called the latest Las Vegas threats "ridiculous and inflammatory."

The Imperial Irrigation District views the Nevada threats as "the latest in a series of salvos directed at the farms and fields of the Imperial Valley," said spokesman Kevin Kelley.

University of Utah law professor Robert Adler told the Desert Sun that the Vegas mayor's comments may be a "kind of political statement, rather than a statement based on legal rights."

Farms in the Coachella and Imperial valleys are called the breadbasket of the southwest, and crops and animals grown there feed much of the country, including Las Vegas, farmers say. Surplus water from the desert is already in the process of being acquired by San Diego and other coastal cities.

Farms in California get 11 times more water than Las Vegas is allocated under a multistate agreement brokered by Congress in 1922. A new revision of the Colorado River Compact has been negotiated by the federal government and water users, to accommodate urban growth and decreased water supplies. # http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2008/02/18/news/sandiego/17_25_082_17_08.txt http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2008/02/18/news/sandiego/17_25_082_17_08.txt

Feb. 17, 2008
Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman brings water war to boil Goodman: We'll take from SoCal farmers if needed (Keith Matheny; The Desert Sun)

If necessary, Las Vegas will meet its water needs with the water that Southern California farmers use, the city's mayor says.

No one is going to allow us to dry up," Mayor Oscar Goodman said at a news conference Thursday. "The Imperial Valley farmers will have their fields g

Goodman's comments stirred already simmering tensions in the agriculture-vs.-urban battle over an increasingly scarce Western water supply. Ramifications of that clash could be felt here in the desert.

Coachella Valley Water District general manager Steve Robbins called Goodman's comments "ridiculous and inflammatory."

"I would have to say to a comment as bold as that: We'll see you at the battlefront," Robbins said Friday.

Goodman was responding to a question about a new scientific study projecting that Lake Mead, the major repository for the Colorado River water that sustains much of the Southwest, could go dry by 2021 given current water-use allocations and global warming.

Lake Mead is the nation's largest manmade lake and reservoir in the United States. It is on the Colorado River about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas in Nevada and Arizona.

The mayor's comments are "the latest in a series of salvos directed at the farms and fields of the Imperial Valley," said Kevin Kelley, spokesman for the Imperial Irrigation District. It provides Colorado River water for 450,000 acres of farmland in Imperial County.

Feb. 08, 2008
Once again, George Knapp has skewered the bad science and self-serving platitudes of the Southern Nevada Water Authority with a sharp column in CityLife. He deserves to be credited as a journalist who not only is reporting what needs to be reported, but is shaming many of the other Las Vegas media outlets - not to mention national bretheren - into covering what might be one of the most important environmental stories emerging in this country. http://www.lvcitylife.com/articles/2008/02/07/opinion/knappster/iq_19566440.txt

Feb. 07, 2008
Written Public Comment

As set forth in the Intermediate Order and Hearing Notice of Oct. 4, 2007, the State Engineer will accept written public comment regarding the use of water as applied for under the applications. The new deadline for written public comments is Feb. 29, 2008.

Please address comments to:

Tracy Taylor
State Engineer
Attention: Susan Joseph-Taylor
Chief Hearing Officer
901 S. Stewart Street
Ste. 2002
Carson City, NV 89701-525

Members of the public can comment directly to the NV State Engineer with their concerns about the Southern Nevada Water Authority's groundwater applications to pump 35,000 acre-feet annually from Cave Valley, Dry Lake Valley and Delamar Valley.

Public comment will be taken on Friday, February 8, 2008 beginning at 9 AM (See locations for public comment below).
If you cannot attend the oral public comment, written public comment will be accepted until Friday, February 29, 2008.

Oral public comment will be taken in Carson City, Las Vegas, Caliente and Ely on Friday, Feb. 8, 2008, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

The locations for public comment are the hearing in Carson City, and

State of Nevada Office Building (Las Vegas)
555 East Washington Ave., Room 4412
Las Vegas, Nevada

University of Nevada (Ely)
White Pine County Cooperative Extension
995 Campton Street
Conference Room Ely, Nevada

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (Caliente)
Lincoln County
360 Lincoln Street
Caliente, NV 89008-0728
Phone: 775-726-3109.

Written Public Comment

As set forth in the Intermediate Order and Hearing Notice of Oct. 4, 2007, the State Engineer will accept written public comment regarding the use of water as applied for under the applications. The new deadline for written public comments is Feb. 29, 2008.

Please address comments to:

Tracy Taylor
State Engineer
Attention: Susan Joseph-Taylor
Chief Hearing Officer
901 S. Stewart Street
Ste. 2002
Carson City, NV 89701-5250 http://www.dcnr.nv.gov/waterhearing/drycavedelamar/schedule.html

Feb. 03, 2008
The next water hearing on the Las Vegas water grab is scheduled for February 4-15 in Carson City before the State Engineer. It involves water applications and protests in 3 remote eastern Nevada valleys - Delamar, Dry Lake, and Cave mostly in Lincoln County. Simeon Herskovits, the Great Basin Water Network attorney, will be arguing the protest case - there is not enough water for exportation - for many of the protestants, including the Sierra Club.

By state law, Nevadans own all of the water in Nevada and have a right to participate in the hearing, including providing the State Engineer written or oral testimony about our concerns on the proposed interbasin transfer. We have the opportunity to prevent another Owens Valley in Nevada, rather than trying to reverse environmental and community disasters for another 100 years.

o Attend one or more days of the water hearing and support our legal and scientific experts. The hearing will begin at 9AM on Monday, February 4 through Friday, February 25, 2008. It will be held at the Nevada Legislature Bldg. 401 So. Carson St. Room 1214. Note that the hearing will be moved for Feb. 7 & 8 only to Room 4100.
o Provide your comments directly to the State Engineer on Friday, Feb. 8 orally, starting at 9AM. Public comments will be taken in Room 4100 in Carson City and by television hookup at sites in Caliente (check State website for location), Ely (995 Campton St. conference room), and Las Vegas (555 E. Washington Ave. #4412).
Or provide written comments to the State Engineer, 901 So. Stewart St. #2002, Carson City, NV 89701 by Feb. 29, 2008. View the hearing live at the: Nevada Legislature Web site.

Deny the applications because there is not enough water available for exportation without harming existing water users and the environment, including state wildlife areas, the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, wildlife and wildlife habitat, farmers, and small communities.
Deny the applications because any existing available water should be reserved for the future of the 3 basins.
Please consider the drying of the West due to global warming and whether huge water transfers are a sustainable use.

call Rse Strickland at 775 329-6118 or Susan Lynn at 775 786-9955, if you have questions.
Sierra Club website: http://www.toiyabe.sierraclub.org
State Engineer's website:
Great Basin Water Network website:

National Geographic Magazine “Drying of the West” Defenders of Wildlife "Gambling on the Water Table: The High Stakes Implications of the Las Vegas Pipeline For Plants, Animals, Places and People"

Link Here

Feb. 02, 2008
ABC 4 INVESTIGATION (VIDEO): A NEW BATTLE OVER UTAH'S WATER SNAKE VALLEY, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Gary Perea owns the Border Inn. As its name implies, it is right on Utah-Nevada the border along Highway 50.

He and a handful of people live in this high, dry, remote valley: The Snake Valley.

It is in the shadow of Wheeler Peak and Great Basin National Park, and it has been a tough place to live. Not everyone makes it.

Something, though, is threatening Gary's hope for his five children: Water, or more realistically, the lack of it.

This is a dry basin that lives off well water; water seeping through bedrock in a giant underground aquifer, an aquifer that connects the Spring Valley in Nevada and the Snake Valley which is mostly in Utah. ...

It is water that is desperately desired in the booming Las Vegas Basin.

Feb. 01, 2008
ALL WET... (FROM HITS & MISSES - SALT LAKE CITY WEEKLY) The federal government’s own scientists say Las Vegas’ plan to drill for water near Utah’s border will dry up the area’s ecosystem and harm national wildlife refuges. But then, it’s been a long time since science—particularly environmental science—counted for much to the federal government. Four federal agencies that initially opposed Las Vegas’ plans to pump water from rural Nevada to fuel urban growth withdrew their protests in January. In exchange, the agencies got only promise from Las Vegas that, should the predicted environmental disasters occur, Las Vegas will stop pumping. Utah’s west desert ranchers think that’s backwards. Once the water now feeding Utah crops is being piped to thousands of Vegas homes, the ranchers doubt the taps can ever be turned off. http://www.slweekly.com/index.cfm?do=article.details&id=CBB086D2-F095-3C15-D9B16D7706424068

Feb. 01, 2008
CLIMATE-CHANGE REALITIES COULD RUIN WATER PLANNING (AZ REPUBLIC) Study: Humans upset delicate weather balance [Shaun McKinnon;The Arizona Republic] Human-caused climate change could undermine a century of building dams, canals and reservoirs across the West as warmer temperatures alter the way water flows through the dry country, scientists say.

Two separate studies, published in today's issue of Science magazine, describe weaknesses in an already fragile system of stretching limited water supplies, suggesting that what happened in Arizona this week, when warm rains filled reservoirs too early, could occur more frequently.

One study attempts to quantify for the first time the human contribution to climate change in the West. It offers ... http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0201climate-drought0201.html

Jan. 31, 2008
... "The climate's changing in the West. We've known that. The question is why, and no one's really addressed that," Barnett said in an interview. According to his study, "The answer is it is us." ... Those changes are likely to accelerate, says the study published Thursday in Science magazine, portending "a coming crisis in water supply for the western United States." ... http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080131/ap_on_sc/climate_change_western_water&printer=1;_ylt=AlmWGQl2Puit2i7zwK5Q5edxieAA

Jan. 30, 2008
The Las Vegas Review Journal runs logical rings around the western water conundrum, but forgets to address a very important angle: Where will our Food Come From? http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/14688182.html

Jan. 15, 2008
The withdrawal of the federal government’s protests against the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s drive to take rural water in northern Lincoln County spells potential disaster for groundwater users across hundreds of square miles of Nevada, including National Wildlife Refuges.

Scientists and conservationists base their concerns on independent analysis and the federal government’s own scientific work, which finds that there is little water in the region and that water already is being used for human and environmental needs.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a “stipulated agreement” Jan. 8 to abandon the federal protests against the SNWA effort to pump more than 11 billion gallons of water annually from three desert valleys in Lincoln County. The Nevada State Engineer, whose office decides how much water can be taken without significantly affecting existing users, is scheduled to consider the SNWA applications for water from the Delamar, Cave and Dry Lake valleys in early February.

The latest hearings are part of a multi-billion-dollar effort by the SNWA to pump rural water from Lincoln, White Pine and Clark counties to Las Vegas to fuel urban growth and supplement water from the Colorado River. Independent and federal scientists have warned of significant and long-term environmental impacts from the pumping.

In exchange for the Jan. 8 stipulated agreement and an earlier, similar agreement stripping federal protests from applications in White Pine County, the federal agencies received a promise that the SNWA would reduce its use of water if the feared impacts appear. However, ranchers and conservationists who oppose the “water grab” believe that the same political pressure that motivated the removal of federal protests would make it unlikely or impossible to reduce water use from the rural areas, especially after thousands of homes and businesses are dependent on the sources.

They also point out that the stipulated agreements put the proverbial fox in charge of guarding the hen house by giving SNWA a central role in monitoring its own groundwater pumping and determining whether that pumping is causing harmful impacts.

“What we are watching is a slow-motion train wreck, the virtual defoliation of a huge part of rural America,” said Susan Lynn, coordinator with the Great Basin Water Network, one of many conservation groups opposing the SNWA effort. “The saddest part of this is that we have substantial and convincing evidence from the government’s own experts that this is going to cause irreparable harm to Nevada’s fragile environment and rural economies.”

Lynn and conservationists point to a detailed analysis produced by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service hydrologist Dr. Timothy D. Mayer in November 2007 that said the entire flow system of eastern and southern Nevada, an area encompassing 16 connected valleys, has only a small fraction of the potential groundwater demanded by the SNWA. The Las Vegas agency is asking for almost 35,000 acre-feet annually from the Lincoln County valleys. But Mayer concluded that at best 3,500 could be appropriated without harming existing springs and groundwater rights.

Click on the link below to read Mayer’s report.

In his analysis, Mayer stated that “…the system is completely appropriated and the State Engineer should deny all water right applications in the Dry Lake and Delamar Valleys.” He noted that groundwater in those valleys and the White River Valley flows down-gradient to valleys, including valleys home to national wildlife refuges, which are already fully appropriated.

“Pahranagat Valley and White River Valley are considered completely appropriated and both basins are dependent on subsurface inflow from Cave Valley. Butterfield and Flag springs in White River Valley … support unique aquatic organisms and may be threatened by pumping up gradient in the southern part of the White River Valley, where the SNWA applications are located.”

Mayer finally concludes: “Appropriation and pumping of some or all of the subsurface outflow from Cave Valley potentially threatens spring discharge in both of these down-gradient basins [White River and Pahranagat].”

Dennis Ghiglieri, a Sierra Club activist opposed to the SNWA plan, noted that the Nevada State Engineer would probably not hear Mayer’s analysis because of the stipulation.

“Here we have what can only be considered a clear warning that unfortunately may not be heard because of the federal government’s abdication of its stewardship responsibilities,” Ghiglieri said. He compared the federal action to other failures of federal oversight including the failure of the levees protecting New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and the environmental destruction of California’s Owens Valley to over-pumping of groundwater.

Mayer’s work itself referenced 17 studies, nine State Engineer orders and rulings and 12 other research works to support his analysis.

“We cannot claim that we weren’t warned. We can only say that the economic and political pressures were considered more important than the scientific analysis,” Ghiglieri said. “Does the federal government believe the State Engineer will make a fully informed decision when one of the most significantly affected parties opts out of the hearing?”

Ghiglieri said that since the State Engineer’s job is to protect the existing groundwater users, including natural and human users, the Interior Department should have at least presented the full range of evidence rather than simply opting out of the process.

For more information: Contact Dennis Ghiglieri, Sierra Club Toiyabe Chapter, at (775) or Simeon Herskovits, attorney with Advocates for Community and Environment, (505) 758-7202. http://water.nv.gov/hearings/dry_cave_delamar%20hearings/USFWS/Exhibit%20501%20Hydrology%20rpt%20Tim%20Mayer.pdf

Jan. 14, 2008
Harry Reid, the Democrats’ Senate leader, is a darling of national environmentalists. But in his home state of Nevada, where runaway growth portends a ruinous water crisis, Reid is an enabler for developers and pit miners—and a desert ecosystem is at stake. In a city running out of water, massive housing projects rise in clouds of dust on the outer reaches of the Las Vegas Valley like stucco ramparts built by some demented desert king. Just over the hills to the east, Lake Mead, which is on the Colorado River, the area's main water source, is literally drying up http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/01/14/Harry-Reid-Nevada-Water-Issue#page1

Jan. 10, 2008
Global warming will bring longer periods of dryness, more downpours, report says: (Las Vegas Sun) Residents of the Southwest have heard the refrain that droughts caused by global warming will worsen the region's already serious water shortage. But hotter, drier weather won't be the only way that climate change affects the water supply, according to a report released last month by the nonprofit advocacy group Environment America. It also will mean stronger, albeit less frequent, storms rather than light rain throughout the year. The study found that extreme downpours have increased 29 percent in Nevada in the past 60 years, and 25 ¯percent overall in the Mountain West. Scientists say these increased deluges will hurt, not help, the long-term water picture. ... http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/sun/2008/jan/10/566649270.html

Jan. 10, 2008
When is a stipulation a cave-in? When the federal government abdicates the public process and its goal of protecting our public lands. Under a deal inked Tuesday, federal officials have agreed to drop their protests of the SNWA project in Lincoln County in exchange for assurances that the proposed groundwater pumping won't harm sensitive wildlife and fragile habitat in the area. So we have to trust SNWA. http://www.lvrj.com/news/13672477.html

Jan. 03, 2008
Government at every level is looking for ways to cut spending, even for programs that have historically been underfunded, like schools, prosecutors, public defenders and mental health services. George Knapp had an idea: If our elected officials are looking for a pile of dough, a seemingly endless source of public dollars, has anyone asked to see the bank statements of the Southern Nevada Water Authority? http://www.lasvegascitylife.com/articles/2008/01/03/opinion/knappster/iq_18784435.txt

Jan. 02, 2008
After you read this RGJ article (which looks like a Southern Nevada Water Authority Press release), you might ask yourself, "isn't protection of the springs key to protecting the endangered Moapa Dace?" You won't find any mention of protecting the water which flows from the springs, however. And ... why does the SNWA own the land in the first place ...

Reno Gazette-Journal: MOAPA, Nev. (AP) -- Authorities have dubbed an area they've set aside for an endangered species of fish the "Warm Springs Natural Area" to reflect its role as a haven for the Moapa dace and other sensitive species.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are protecting nearly all the natural habitat of the Moapa coriacea, a finger-length fish with a black spot in the middle of its tail that is on the federal endangered species list.

The water authority holds the largest piece of property, a roughly 2,000-acre tract dotted with natural springs and imported palm trees that researchers believe is home to almost all the dace on Earth.

The name was changed after the Las Vegas-based authority took control of the property known as Warm Springs Ranch, 60 miles north of Las Vegas, in September.

It is the site of springs of prehistoric water from a deep carbonate aquifer that bubble to the surface at dozens of sites and form small streams that come together as the Muddy River. ... http://news.rgj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080102/NEWS18/801020363&template=printart

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