Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Landmark Ruling Rejects Disastrous Water Diversion Project in Nevada and Utah

In a landmark decision released yesterday, Senior Judge Robert Estes of the Seventh Judicial District Court of Nevada rejected the Nevada state engineer’s 2011 allocation of approximately 84,000 acre-feet of ancient groundwater a year to the Southern Nevada Water Authority for export to Las Vegas. The decision is a huge blow to the Water Authority’s plan to suck massive amounts of water out of the Nevada-Utah desert to feed urban sprawl in and around Las Vegas.

Cave Lake State Park in White Pine County is a precious water resource threatened by the proposed pipeline to Las Vegas. Photo credit: Kristi Fillman / Great Basin Water Network

The judge was highly critical of the scientific basis for the engineer’s allocation, calling it “arbitrary, capricious and premature.” The case was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and its allies in the Great Basin Water Network, as well as by White Pine County, NV.

“This is a historic ruling and a great victory for wildlife in Nevada and Utah, rural communities and families, and for the citizens of Las Vegas,” said the Center’s Las Vegas-based senior scientist Rob Mrowka. “Dozens of species would have faced certain extinction had the groundwater mining project moved forward."

"The existing water rights of communities and families would have also been impacted and, the residents of Las Vegas would have been buried under a $15.5 billion mortgage for a pipeline that isn’t needed,” Mrowka continued. 

The battle over the water of the ancient carbonate aquifer in Nevada and Utah has been going on since 1989. The Great Basin Water Network, a coalition of environmentalists, rural communities and families, sportsmen and Native tribes was formed in 2004 to fight the Water Authority’s plan to mine ancient aquifers that also feed above ground springs and streams and pipe them 300 miles to support unsustainable growth in the Las Vegas Valley.

Previously, the Water Network won a case in Nevada Supreme Court overturning the award of water rights to Las Vegas in the same groundwater basins and forcing new hearings, which concluded in 2011 with the water rights overturned in this ruling.

“By setting the clock back to 1989, the court has provided an opportunity for the Water Authority and its board to explore previously ignored alternatives to this destructive project,” Mrowka said. “Rather than robbing the desert of its precious little water, we should be looking at sustainable ways for Las Vegas to live within its means without destroying the environment and rural communities."

The December 2012 decision by the Bureau of Land Management to grant a right-of-way for the needed pipeline is also opposed by the Center and the Water Network, and federal litigation against it is expected soon.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oregano oil is an extract that is not as strong as the essential oil, but appears to be useful both when consumed or applied to the skin. Peakpx / CC by 1.0

By Alexandra Rowles

Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.

However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets Ronaldo Caiado, governor of the state of Goiás on June 5, 2020. Palácio do Planalto / CC BY 2.0

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over the world's second worst coronavirus outbreak after the U.S., said Tuesday that he had tested positive for the virus.

Read More Show Less
Although natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, it is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Skitterphoto / PIxabay

By Emily Grubert

Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.

Read More Show Less
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as the first to effectively kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, based on laboratory testing. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

Read More Show Less
About 30,000 claims contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are currently unsettled. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Hundreds of sudden elephant deaths in Botswana aren't just a loss for the ecosystem and global conservation efforts. Mario Micklisch / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Charli Shield

When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.

Read More Show Less