Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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

An aerial view of a crude oil storage facility of Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) in the Krasnodar Territory. Vitaly Timkiv / TASS / Getty Images

Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.

Read More Show Less
Examples (from left) of a lead pipe, a corroded steel pipe and a lead pipe treated with protective orthophosphate. U.S. EPA Region 5

Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Read More Show Less

By Richard Connor

A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.

Read More Show Less
Ian Sane / Flickr

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.

Read More Show Less