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In The News — Water Grab News — 2019

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In The News — Below are press stories about the ongoing drought in the west; press stories also cover the Southern Nevada Water Authority's "water grab" in Nevada and Utah; and other "mega" water projects that threaten the Great Basin.
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July 18, 2019 — SNWA unanimously votes to extend quarter-cent sales tax — The Southern Nevada Water Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to ask the Clark County Commission to make permanent a quarter-cent sales tax that has collected $1.5 billion dollars since 1999. A letter of approval will be drafted and sent to the Clark County Commission with the caveat that none of the funds from the tax be used on the controversial SNWA proposed 300-mile pipeline that would send 58 billion gallons of water from Eastern Nevada to Las Vegas annually. “This sales tax is critical not only for the water authority but for the water and wastewater system across Clark County,” said Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager John Entsminger — nevadacurrent.com [Related Information from GBWN]

June 27, 2019 — Desalination is booming as cities run out of water — Some 30 miles north of San Diego, along the Pacific Coast, sits the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the largest effort to turn salt water into fresh water in North America. ach day 100 million gallons of seawater are pushed through . . . wired.com

June 23, 2019 — New agreement cuts water usage further if Colorado River levels keep dropping — The American West has never been particularly wet, but it’s getting even drier. The Colorado River is low. Lake Mead is low. Lake Powell is low. The white ring along the sides of giant mountain-lined reservoirs continues to grow. Since 2000, the West—including Nevada—has been in a serious drought, and affected states are scrambling to adapt. A recent agreement between Western states—initially proposed and approved by their U.S. senators and signed into law by President Donald Trump—will attempt to tackle the dearth of water in the Colorado River by instituting further water-use restrictions. The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan . . . Las Vegas Sun

June 20, 2019 — Feds Can’t Duck Claims of Shoddy Review for Desert Water Pipeline — LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal judge indicated Thursday he will advance conservation groups’ claims that a proposed 43-mile groundwater pipeline in a Southern California desert was approved abruptly and without proper environmental review by a federal agency. The Cadiz groundwater pipeline project would move nearly 45 million gallons of water daily for 50 years from an underground aquifer in the Mojave Desert and to cities across Southern California. The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety accuse Cadiz of trying to evade federal laws . . . courthousenews.com

June 19, 2019 — Groundwater pumping has significantly reduced US stream flows — Groundwater pumping in the last century has contributed as much as 50 percent to stream flow declines in some U.S. rivers, according to new research led by a University of Arizona hydrologist — phys.org

June 17, 2019 — Good Year for Snow Could Delay Colorado River Water Emergency — An above average winter for snowfall in the Rockies could mean a reprieve for an upcoming water shortage declaration among the Colorado River basin states — knau.or

June 13, 2019 — Utah Presses Forward With Pipeline Plans Despite Colorado River Basin Constraints — The drive behind a massive water development project in southwestern Utah, the Lake Powell Pipeline, shows no signs of slowing even after the Colorado River Basin states signed a new agreement this spring that could potentially force more conservation or cutbacks — kpbs.org

May 30, 2019 — Beware of changing state water law — A controversial bill that would have drastically changed state water law apparently has been scuttled for this session of the Legislature. Gov. Steve Sisolak said no consensus on the bill could be reached by the time the session ends this week and state water regulators should put together a panel to study the matter prior to the next session, according to The Nevada Independent. Opponents of Assembly Bill 30 said it would have eroded the foundation of our current water law that protects senior water rights holders and the environment as well . . . “We are pleased at AB30’s demise and committed to working with all stakeholders on policy,” Roerink said. “But we will never compromise on the pipeline or any nefarious attempts to undermine the law. No part of the state should be viewed as a water colony or sacrificial lamb for another part of Nevada.” mesquitelocalnews.com

May 24, 2019 — Governor's office pulls controversial water bill as talks turn to an interim working group — After weeks of tense negotiations punctuated by moments where compromise seemed possible, Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office decided to pull a controversial water bill that opponents had argued would bolster the Las Vegas pipeline. The decision was made after “there [did] not appear to be anything approaching consensus,” according to an email from Sisolak’s senior policy advisor — thenevadaindependent.com

May 24, 2019 — Measure feared to boost LV water grab dies in Carson City — Opponents of the great Las Vegas rural “water grab” are celebrating the legislative death of Assembly Bill 30, a measure they say would have provided fertile ground for a power play by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), the agency suing for the right to take water from rural Nevada. The bill would have allowed the State Engineer to resort to a so-called 3M plan — Mitigation, Management and Monitoring — in cases where applications for water rights fail to avoid conflicts to the State Engineer’s satisfaction — nevadacurrent.com

May 24, 2019 — Water grab or sound policy? Proposed water legislation creates tempest in Carson City — CARSON CITY — Proposed legislation tackling water rights has environmental activists concerned about the specter of a north-to-south pipeline. Assembly Bill 30 would allow the state engineer’s office to create monitoring, management and mitigation plans — referred to as 3M plans — to deal with conflicts that would arise when an application for water use is in conflict with senior water rights holders. Environmentalists and a Republican lawmaker spoke Thursday outside the Legislative Building, slamming the bill as a water rights grab and precursor to a long-discussed project to pump water from the relatively wetter Northern Nevada to the Las Vegas area. Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, spoke bluntly. “A vote for AB30 is a vote for the pipeline,” he said. — Las Vegas Sun [Print PDF]

May 22, 2019 — OPINION: AB 30 threatens Nevada's National Parks and public lands— Pipeline projects across the nation threaten our public lands and natural resources. Unfortunately, Nevada is not immune to the danger. While some states are battling over energy pipelines, Nevada’s problematic pipeline would instead carry groundwater extracted from the ancient aquifers surrounding Great Basin National Park. In short, a bill currently before the Nevada State Senate (Assembly Bill 30) enables a pipeline proposal that would irreparably damage Great Basin National Park’s water dependent ecosystems where pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mule deer, desert tortoises and countless other creatures call home — Reno Gazette Journal [Print PDF]

May 21, 2019 — Officials celebrate Colorado River drought deal at Hoover Dam — Top water officials from across the Southwest gathered at the Hoover Dam on Monday to celebrate the completion of emergency drought plans for the Colorado River. From an observation deck overlooking the dam, federal regulators and representatives of the seven states that share the river signed the last of the legal documents needed to enact the so-called Drought Contingency Plans — RJ.com

May 16, 2019 — As legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom — All of the water lawyers showed up this week. Some of the developments this week in the ongoing debate over Nevada’s water law were to be expected. Others came as a surprise. Everyone from Southern Nevada Water Authority to environmental groups were caught off guard on Tuesday when Sen. Melanie Scheible, who chairs the Senate Natural Resource Committee, called a surprise work session on Assembly Bill 30, a contentious water bill aimed at resolving conflicts between water users and often viewed as a proxy battle over the water authority’s proposed pipeline — thenevadaindependent.com

April 27, 2019 — The Las Vegas rural water grab and endangered species — Review-Journal reporter Henry Brean’s April 13 story, “Rare frog finds home at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas,” portends what the future could look like for the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

It is admirable that water authority officials are working to save rare and imperiled species. But why are they simultaneously pursuing a pipeline project that would cause the decline or extinction of dozens of endemic aquatic species in Eastern Nevada — By Patrick Donnelly, director of the Center for Biological Diversity —— [This letter was posted on the Las Vegas Review Journal's website]

April 25, 2019 — Utilities tighten valves under Colorado River drought plan — One water rights attorney views the recently approved Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan as an opportunity for the municipal bond market. "Now that the agreement’s been signed, everybody’s looking at augmentation,” said Paul Orme, a water rights specialist at the Arizona law firm Salmon Lewis & Weldon who served on a steering committee for the state. “I can certainly see a role for municipal finance in that.” — bondbuyer.com

April 25, 2019 — A look back at the specifics of a wild, wet and snowy winter in California and the Southwest — Following a pretty dry 2017-18 season, the storms came back with a frenzy this season across the Southwest, helping to propel many places to above-average precipitation accuweather.com

April 17, 2019 — IID sues to halt Colorado River drought plan signed by Trump, says officials ignored Salton Sea— It's not over yet. The Imperial Irrigation District has sued to halt a sweeping Colorado River drought plan that was signed in to law by President Trump on Tuesday. Officials with the sprawling, sparsely populated rural water district in southeastern California say the Salton Sea was wrongly left out of the plan. IID holds among the oldest and largest rights to water from the river

April 15, 2019 — Environmentalists, lawmakers find compromise on pipeline bill — CARSON CITY — Environmental groups have dropped their opposition to a bill they had originally blasted as a way for the state to green-light a controversial plan to pipe water from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas after the bill was amended last week — reviewjournal.com

April 14, 2019 — High snowpack leaves Nevada drought free with a short-term water supply boost, as rivers continue to face structural issues — When snowpack in the eastern Sierra runs off into the Truckee River each spring, it hits several reservoirs before winding through Reno and flowing into Pyramid Lake. During the past couple of months, so much snow fell on the Truckee Basin — about 185 percent of normal for this time of the year — that more water will enter the reservoirs than there is space to store it — thenevadaindependent

April 08, 2019 — Study aims to better measure evaporation at Lake Powell — Las Vegas: Researchers are working to better measure how much water is lost to evaporation at the nation’s two largest reservoirs as part of effort they say could lead to new water management strategies. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Desert Research Institute have teamed up to study evaporation at Lake Powell, building upon ongoing research at Lake Mead, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported last week sltrib.com

April 08, 2019 — Congress approves seven-state Colorado River deal addressing drought conditions — The House and Senate both approved a seven-state agreement Monday night designed to reduce use of water from the parched Colorado River by drought-stricken Western states. Sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), the bill gives approval to a deal that was crafted through years of negotiations and designed to manage a limited water supply in the dry but rapidly growing West. It passed by voice vote in both chambers. The Colorado River is a water source for some 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — thehill.com

April 04, 2019 — The problems with taking water from Eastern Nevada The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate wildlife and the people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.

“Southern Nevada should [obtain water] legally,” Roerink said while filming Nevada Politics Today. “They shouldn’t steal water from Eastern Nevada and decimate the face of Eastern Nevada as we know it, along with a national park, national wildlife refuges, and the heritage of our ranching and farming culture” — reviewjournal.com

March 28, 2019 — Here's how Utah's snowpack plays into the Colorado River drought plan — deseretnews.com

March 25, 2019 — Congress: Approve the Colorado River Plan as a model for climate resilience — After years of hard work and difficult negotiations, a historic seven-state agreement to conserve Colorado River water is facing its last hurdle: Congress. In the coming days, Congress will begin committee hearings on unusually concise, 139-word legislation that would allow the secretary of the interior to implement the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP — thehill.com

March 19, 2019 — Nevada, Colorado River states sign letter agreeing to Drought Contingency Plan, despite opposition from river's largest user — After years of talks and disputes, the seven states in the Colorado River Basin came together on Tuesday to back a Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) to use less water during shortages. Negotiators for the seven states sent the plan to Congress, which would have to enact legislation to implement the plan, and met a key deadline imposed by federal water managers — thenevadaindependent.com

March 18, 2019 — High Snowpack Could Temporarily Stave Off Colorado River Water Shortage — High snowpack in the southern Rocky Mountains this winter will likely stave off a shortage declaration in the Colorado River watershed in 2020, relieving pressure on water managers attempting to navigate future scarcity. New data from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation models show a lessened risk of a key Colorado River reservoir dropping far enough to trigger a first-ever shortage declaration. Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin is at 138 percent of the long-term median, a level not seen in mid-March since 1997 — www.kunc.org

March 01, 2019 — At Legislature, pushback from groups over water measures — The first big water fight has broken out at the Legislature. A pair of bills that would essentially increase the power of the state engineer in various forms of water conflicts — such as between senior and junior rights holders or groundwater and surface water users — drew concerns from opponents that the bills would give too much power to the engineer, while state officials said the changes are necessary for water management in the state — Las Vegas Sun [More Coverage — RJ.com — and — RGJ.com]

February 28, 2019 — Opponents, legislators raise questions that bills could enable Las Vegas pipeline, depart from Western water law — An Assembly committee heard two water bills Wednesday amid criticism from a varied group of water users who worry that the legislation could undermine the historic application of Western water law and enable large-scale projects, including the controversial Las Vegas pipeline. The Southern Nevada Water Authority, which is pushing the project, testified neutral on the bill — thenevadaindependent.com

February 26, 2019 — OPINION: Don't change water laws to benefit the few — By Abby Johnson: A small but powerful cluster wants big changes to Nevada water law this legislative session. A hearing this week will shine a light on the dangerous proposals pitching “modernizations” and “fixes” for an old system known as prior appropriation. Sounds harmless, right? Don’t let the friendly language fool you — thenevadaindependent.com

January 31, 2019 — Arizona Joins Colorado River Drought Plan, a Move That Could Help Protect California Drinking Water — Arizona will join a drought plan for the Colorado River, narrowly meeting a federal deadline that threatened to blow up a compromise years in the making for the seven states that draw water from the constrained river. The Arizona House and Senate overwhelmingly supported the legislation and Gov. Doug Ducey promptly signed it, delivering the final puzzle piece needed to avoid potentially more severe cutbacks imposed by the federal government — AP

January 30, 2019 [Opinion] Tough Times Along the Colorado River — In the face of a prolonged drought, the federal government could step in and reduce water use in the Southwest — NY Times.com

January 27, 2019 — The Colorado River equation, the drought plan and why things have stopped adding up — he National Park Service is preparing for the worst. In November, the federal agency released its plan for how to operate Lake Mead marinas and launch ramps if the elevation of the Colorado River reservoir — the poster-child for prolonged drought in the Southwest — continues to decline because of overuse and climate change. To the passerby visiting Lake Mead, it has been clear for some time that things on the Colorado River are not working the way they were intended to. Signs warn of closures to boat launches. Underwater ghost towns are now visible because of low lake levels. From the top of the Hoover Dam, visitors see a bathtub ring, a chalk-colored display of how far the waterline has dropped — thenevadaindependent.com

January 27, 2019 — [Salt Lake] Tribune editorial: If we build Powell pipeline, will the water come? — The Colorado River is not meeting its obligations. Its Lake Powell bank account is in danger of running dry. A 97-year-old agreement demands that the river deliver 5.2 trillion gallons of water to seven states and Mexico each year. That isn’t happening, and now — in the age of climate change — the chance of ever meeting that demand is fading — sltrib.com

January 20, 2019 — COMMENTARY: Gov. Steve Sisolak has an opportunity on state water policy — The 2018 election cycle was unlike any other for water politics in Nevada. The top candidates for governor wisely denounced the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plan to build a 300-mile, $15.5 billion pipeline to siphon 58 billion gallons of water annually from the heart of the Great Basin in rural eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. The announcements — from Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and his opponent, Republican Adam Laxalt — signified a watershed moment in Nevada politics — By Kyle Roerink, Executive Director, Great Basin Water Network — Las Vegas Review Journal

January 20, 2019 — Lake Powell could become a ‘dead pool’ as climate change, political wars and unabated growth drain its waters — Ever since the Colorado River began filling Utah’s Glen Canyon and its countless side canyons in 1963, conservationists have been calling for emptying the lake that now supports a recreation economy and power generation. Climate change, unbridled development and Western water politics are conspiring to gradually grant this wish — sltrib.com

Lake Mead / Image via Shutterstock January 14, 2019 — Things Are Getting Crazy on the Colorado River — The Colorado River may not look like it, but it’s one of the world’s largest banks. The river is not only the source of much of the American West’s economic productivity – San Diego, Phoenix and Denver would hardly exist without it – but its water is now the central commodity in a complex accounting system used by major farmers and entire states — voiceofsandiego.org

January 11, 2019 — Nevada’s state engineer retires, leaving court battles to successor — For a guy with a vague job title, State Engineer Jason King has been involved in some pretty important decisions for Nevada. During his eight years as the state’s top water regulator, he banned new residential wells in Pahrump, blocked water development for the long-stalled Coyote Springs master-planned community and twice ruled on controversial plans to pipe groundwater to Las Vegas from eastern Nevada — Las Vegas Review Journal

2019 — Former Titus Aide Hired To Fight Las Vegas Water Pipeline Plan — The Great Basin Water Network has hired a former aide to Rep. Dina Titus to help lead its fight against Las Vegas’ efforts to tap rural Nevada groundwater. The Reno-based environmental group recently named Kyle Roerink as its executive director, and he becomes the organization’s first paid staffer. Roerink said he plans to spend 2019 making the public and lawmakers aware of the dollar and environmental costs of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s planned pipeline from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas — knpr.org [11.27]



Go To Water Grab News Archives — 2018



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