Nevada Legislature adds interbasin water transfer requirements to Nevada's water law, thanks to the advocacy of knowledgeable water policy advocates
Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act (Public Law 108-424)) facilitates pipeline corridor. Also requires agreement between Nevada and Utah on the division of shared groundwater, EIS and BARCASS carbonate aquifer study
First road tour of Eastern Nevada areas targeted by SNWA project
- Research into comparison between Nevada water grab and Owens Valley (Calif) initiated.
July 12, 2004 — Letter to Senator Reid — Re: Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act of 2004 — The 3 page letter was sent by the Nevada Ad Hoc Water Network, a coalition of 22 organizations and two dozen citizens
First water strategy meeting in Baker is held and the need is identified to establish a separate group to work on water importation projects.
- Pacific Institute study on water conservation in southern Nevada begins. The study (link below) was published on November 26, 2007 — Hidden Oasis: Water Conservation and Efficiency in Las Vegas.
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping process is initated (first try); activists turn out hundreds to public meetings and generates thousands of comments.
- Senator Harry Reid (NV) dedicates Great Basin National Park (GBNP) Visitors Center.
Great Basin Water Network (GBWN) is founded.
- Nevada State Engineer (NSE) holds hearing on 1989 Spring Valley protests.
- Agreement by Souther Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), BLM, The National Park Service (NPS), the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Bureau of Intian Affaires (BIA) [without tribes' consent] is signed. The agreement stipulates withdrawal of federal protests of SNWA applications in Spring Valley for future monitoring and mitigation program of groundwater pumping impacts. (This was a secret process — the public and White Pine County, NV were excluded.)
- GBWN files due process lawsuit over NSE exclusion of protestant successors and new residents and lack of notification of protestants.
- BLM re-scopes Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) because project description changes. (more on EIS process)
- Road tour initiated in June to show people the areas in Lincoln and White Pine Counties affected by the water grab.
- Press coverage — Vegas seeks OK to pump water from White Pine valley
GBWN receives 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status.
- NSE rules in favor of SNWA, approving 80,000 Acre Feet (afa) of annual pumping in Spring Valley following 3 periods of testing and monitoring (GBWN did not appeal the Spring Valley ruling).
- Water Grabb receives expansion of media coverage nationally and internationally, and reports published by Defenders of Wildlife and The Pacific Institute are released
- Spotlight report reveals secret negotiations between Nevada and Utah officials on shared water agreement
- SNWA purchases ranches in Spring Valley Nevada ($78.9M).
New allies join GBWN, including the Nevada agricultural community, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks
Nevada Supreme Court unanimously rules in GBWN's favor in challenge to Spring Valley protest process .
- Utah Governor withdraws Utah negotiators from talks on water agreement after Supreme Court ruling.
- NSE reopens protest period.
- SNWA refiles all its applications.
- GBWN and residents protest applications again; 2,300 protests filed. NSE does not combine the protests; filing fees cost $56,000.
- GBWN and allies successfully defeat SNWA lobby efforts for a "legislative fix" to the Supreme Court ruling.
NSE rehears Spring and CDD (Cave, Dry Lake, & Delamar Valleys) , a grueling and costly six week process. Attorneys for GBWN, LDS ranch in Spring Valley, Goshute Tribe, 2 Utah counties, and Eskdale present protest cases.
- NSE receives over 23,000 public comments opposing the SNWA applications .In-person comments draw many tribal members
and last an entire day
- BLM releases Draft EIS for public comment, holds 9 hearings. GBWN turns out hundreds and gather 20,461 public comments.
- GBWN publishes EIS guide to encourage participation. EIS discloses $15.7 Billion project cost, and devastating impacts to an area larger than Vermont.
NSE approves a total of 84,000 afy from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, & Delamar Valleys. Snake Valley applications remain in limbo pending bi-state negotiations
Nevada State Supreme Court Developments
- All parties’ briefing on the merits of SNWA’s and the Nevada State Engineer’s appeals was
completed during the fall, ending in December of 2014. Then, this past February, the Court issued
an order dismissing SNWA’s and the State Engineer’s original appeals on the ground that
Senior District Judge Estes’s 2013 ruling, which overturned the State Engineer’s approval of
SNWA’s water rights for the Project, was a remand order and not a properly appealable final
- It is important to recognize that the Supreme Court’s order dismissing the original appeals does
not truly dispose of the issues on appeal because both SNWA and the State Engineer resubmitted
all the same issues through Petitions for Writs of Mandamus that still are pending before
the Court. [More Information]
Time-line: Federal lawsuit against the Record of Decision (ROD) approving SNWA’s Pipeline Project.
New Federal Website - Colorado River Basin Insights using open data.
- 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
Drought in the Colorado River Basin
Insights using open data — Since 2000, the Colorado River Basin (Basin) has been experiencing a historic, extended drought that has impacted regional water supply and other resources, such as hydropower, recreation, and ecologic services. During this time, the Basin has experienced its lowest 16-year period of inflow in over 100 years of record keeping, and reservoir storage in the Colorado River system has declined from nearly full to about half of capacity. This application was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation in support of the Department of the Interior’s Open Water Data Initiative (OWDI). This visualization is part of a multi-agency effort to showcase the usefulness of open data (i.e., data provided in a discoverable, sharable, and machine-readable format) by exploring the current 16-year drought and its effects on the Colorado River Basin — U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation
- June 2, 2016 - GBWN and allies file reply brief in federal case challenging BLM's Record of Decision for the pipeline
- September 14, 2016 - NSE to hold status conference on remand for Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar Valleys
(1) Advocates Celebrate Protection of Nevada Water Law as Nevada Legislature Adjourns
- Assembly Bill 298 was a proposal by the Southern Nevada Water Authority [SNWA] to lay out the definitions of certain terms and a detailed monitoring, management and mitigation (or 3M) process in Nevada's water law. The bill died in the face of extensive opposition from environmentalists, sportsmen, ranchers, farmers, rural residents and governments, tribes, and businesses. This broad group of stakeholders argued the language was too permissive and would lead to more of the state's groundwater basins becoming over-allocated.
- Read GBWN's testimony on Assembly Bill 298
- See GBWN's webpage about this legislation
(2) Federal case against BLM challenging 2012 right of way decision in favor of SNWA's pipeline project
- At oral arguments in Las Vegas, GBWN's attorney Simeon Herskovits presented arguments on behalf of a group of Plaintiffs, including GBWN, White Pine County, rural local governmental entities, and citizens groups. Attorneys for co-plaintiffs including the Goshute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Ely Shoshone Tribes, and the Center for Biological Diversity presented argument with Simeon. Arguments were made challenging the BLM's failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.
While Judge Andrew Gordon did not stop the proposal, he ordered the BLM to take another look at possible environmental effects of SNWA's project, which included weather the project will meet Clean Water Act requirements and whether it will be possible to replace or restore remote wetlands if groundwater pumping begins in the Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys. Pipeline opponents say ancient natural water basins beneath the Nevada-Utah state line aren't naturally replenished in today's arid climate conditions. "There can be no question that drawing this much water from these desert aquifers will harm the ecosystem and impact cultural sites," the judge said.
- Read the judge's ruling — 39 page PDF
(3) Fourth State Hearing on Controversial SNWA Water Pipeline Concludes
The Nevada State Engineer's Office held two weeks of hearings on the controversial plan by SNWA to take groundwater from eastern Nevada and pipe it over 250 miles to Las Vegas, after the Nevada District Court sided with White Pine County, Great Basin Water Network, and allies, finding that the previous 2012 rulings on the same applications granted more water than was available. The court also found SNWA did not have specific plans to monitor and mitigate predicted impacts, or guarantee that senior water rights and the environment would be protected.
White Pine County and Great Basin Water Network, along with the Goshute, Ely Shoshone, and Duckwater Shoshone Tribes and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, presented evidence critical of the project to the State Engineer in this most recent hearing, the fourth round on water rights applications first filed in 1989. Before the State Engineer makes a decision, he's asked all parties to draft a proposal for how they'd like him to rule. A decision is not expected until February 2018 at the earliest, which will then likely go back to the court for review.
- For additional details see GBWN's webpage on this issue
- For the first time in the 29 year of the Water Grab fight, the Nevada State Engineer denied Southern Nevada Water Authority's applications for groundwater in Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar Valleys! BUT - he also approved SNWA's monitoring, management, and mitigation plans to drain the valleys. Our ACE attorneys Simeon Herskovits and Iris Thornton filed the White Pine County/GBWN appeal in September to overturn the 3M plans, while SNWA sued to undo the denial of water rights, and the State Engineer appealed his own decision.
Our first film, Great Basin Water Is Life, debuted this spring in Las Vegas, Reno and online. More than 18,000 people have watched and learned about the Water Grab from the people affected. The film showcases the beauty and fragility of Water Grab territory and the stark reality that there isn't extra water for SNWA's 300-mile, $15.5 BILLION folly impacting eastern Nevada and Utah's West Desert. The film has already snagged its first award: it was chosen for the 2019 Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Grass Valley/Nevada City, CA in January, and will be part of a nationwide pool of films for local and regional film festivals.
In June, the GBWN board approved a plan to hire our first full-time paid executive director. The organization has run on volunteer mega-power for 13 years. GBWN is pleased to announce that Kyle Roerink has been hired full time beginning December 1! Kyle is a Reno-based communications specialist and former Las Vegas Sun reporter who's eager to join the sustainable water fight.
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