On May 21, 2020, the SNWA “deferred” its Groundwater Development Project AKA the Las Vegas Pipeline.
That was the conclusion to a monumental fight over specific water rights applications and a Right of Way application on federal land. That opposition effort cost unholy sums of money, time and energy – expended by people who could least afford it. Against all odds, however, their moxie paid off.
The uncanny partnerships between farmers, ranchers, tribes and conservation interests was the “sais quoi” that kept us afloat over the 30-plus year fight. During that time folks gave themselves devoutly to stop the pipeline. Their sacrifice, their commitment and their honor remain a beacon for all of us who want to keep water local.
The SNWA’s deferral was cast one year ago as some type of concession or peace offering. But let’s remember, that it was the result of your work, your commitment and your endurance.
They didn’t defer out of some allegiance to altruism. They deferred because we beat them into submission via legal efforts, grassroots advocacy and science.
However, if we are not careful, all our work could go down the drain. We could be sucker-punched despite our knockout blow.
The Colorado River is shrinking. Towns like St George, Cedar City, Reno and Las Vegas want to keep growing. Groundwater seems like an obvious choice. But the problem is that most of the groundwater is accounted for and much of it remains from the last ice age. Once it’s gone it doesn’t come back.
We have a lot to be proud of, and we have a lot to work toward. The West Desert Water Grab, the Lake Powell Pipeline, and various regulatory/legislative proposals are all risks. Las Vegas Sprawl, the shrinking Colorado River, speculation, profiteering are all threats too. Help us continue our efforts in the administrative realm, the legal realm and the realm of public opinion.
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We cannot do this work without you. If history is any indicator, look what we can achieve. If history is any indicator, look what we will be up against. And remember. SNWA still has 50,000 afy of water rights, 30,000 acres of private property and 900,000 acres of grazing allotments.
This isn’t the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning.
I know I am missing some groups, but I am grateful for these folks –– and many others –– every day:
White Pine County, Advocates for Community and Environment, Nevada Rangelands Resources Commission, N-4 Grazing Board, The Border Inn, Patagonia, The Ely Shoshone, The Duckwater Shoshone, The Confederated Tribes of The Goshute Reservation, Baker Ranches, Lush Cosmetics, The Center for Biological Diversity, National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club – Toiyabe Chapter, PLAN, The Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, The Central Nevada Regional Water Authority, and so many others.
Our greatest strength is our diversity.
As the old Armenian proverb goes: The sand stays, the water goes
Well, not if I can help it.