You may have heard of Blockchains LLC. It wants to build a city 20 miles east of Reno at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center that would be dubbed an “Innovation Zone” in state law. A proposal in the Nevada Legislature would let Blockchains govern under a different set of rules than counties. Nevertheless, while the company may have big ideas, it doesn’t have water.
If you’ve heard about the company it’s likely in relation to cryptocurrency, a digital asset that acts as currency and is protected by blockchains technology rather than a bank. In a nutshell, Blockchains technology purports to change the world, upending the staples of our society. Banks, title companies, mortgage companies and literally every other middle man you can think of in the financial sector would be useless in a world where Blockchains is king.
Some of Blockchains’ technology and things like cryptocurrency are speculative investments right now. And, as you know, they aren’t prevalent throughout society. These technologies need legitimizing. Blockchains LLC, backed by an army of lobbyists and big money, needs a utopia where its technology can be the vector for society. Maybe it can get it past lawmakers.
What it can’t get, however, is 67,000 acres plush with water in the Nevada desert.
That’s why Blockchains LLC recently inked a $35 million deal for water 100 miles away (First reported by Daniel Rothberg in the Nevada Independent). Blockchains LLC recently bought the water from Sonterra Development. The Great Basin Water Network has long been skeptical of Sonterra. In 2007, GBWN began battling Sonterra as it sought to appropriate new water in dry desert basins north of Pyramid Lake and South of Gerlach – including the basins where Blockchains bought its water.
At the time, Sonterra wanted to develop near Silver Springs and Dayton. The applications, which we protested, were denied on the grounds that Sonterra couldn’t prove beneficial use. In other words, the State Engineer denied the applications because they were speculative. A promise of more suburbia –– or a tech utopia –– isn’t enough to demand water rights.
So instead, Sonterra played the long game. In 2017, it bought water rights from farmers near Gerlach. Then in November 2020, Sonterra sold the water to Blockchains.
Until Blockchains figures out a legal way to move desert water 100 miles to TRIC, it will have to be in the farming business. Without water, the promise of a new Blockchains tech colony is just window dressing. This is yet another development play or, dare I say, a mirage in the Nevada Desert (Anyone remember Faraday?).
I would speculate Blockchains’ foray into farming won’t last for long. They will need to pump and pipe. Taking that land out of ag production will have lasting consequences on groundwater recharge, wildlife and nearby Pyramid Lake.
We will be watching and waiting.