People Voice Overwhelming Opposition for Water Project
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) submitted more than 21,200 comments from the public Nov. 29 to the Nevada state engineer opposing granting of water rights to the Southern Nevada Water Authority for its massive groundwater pipeline project. If approved, the project would siphon 57 million gallons of water a year away from rural Nevada and Utah to fuel unsustainable urban growth in southern Nevada, unleashing vast environmental, economic and social harm.
The CBD will also submit the comments to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s board of directors Nov. 30, at their meeting.
“Aside from being a financial boondoggle, the Water Authority’s proposed pipeline would destroy Nevada’s priceless natural heritage and huge swaths of rural communities,” said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada-based ecologist with the CBD. “There are other, better options for addressing southern Nevada’s long-term water needs.”
A fiscal analysis produced by Las Vegas-based Hobbs, Ong & Associates conservatively pegged the cost of the water project at nearly $15.5 billion—which would saddle millions of ratepayers in Clark County with huge costs for water services for generations. The Water Authority has said publicly that the cost for the project, which would initially include more than 300 miles of pipelines and dozens of well sites in rural east-central Nevada, is $2 billion to $3.6 billion. Under the $15.5 billion estimate, average monthly water bills for residents would increase from $36 to more than $90.
A draft environmental impact statement prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for the pipeline project disclosed that major vegetation and ecosystem changes would occur on more than 200,000 acres, including wetlands that will dry up and wildlife shrubland habitat converted to dryland grasses and noxious weeds. More than 300 springs would also be damaged, along with more than 120 miles of streams. Species such as the Bonneville cutthroat trout, sage grouse, mule deer and elk would suffer major declines as their habitats disappear.
“It doesn’t make sense to rob Nevada’s wildlife and these rural areas of the water they need just to quench the thirst of unsustainable growth, whether it’s Las Vegas or Coyote Springs,” said Mrowka. “It’s time for our county and municipal leaders to start talking about creating sustainable communities in the face of dwindling water supplies and a hotter, drier climate. Clearly the old paradigm of a growth-driven economy has failed and will not lead to a promising future.”
Among the options not seriously studied by the Water Authority are aggressive conservation; investment in modern and efficient indoor and outdoor water appliances and devices; expanded development of ocean desalinization; reworking the sorely outdated laws governing the Colorado River’s water; and the Authority’s own general manager’s suggestion of diversion of the flood waters of the Mississippi. The Water Authority has never produced an analysis comparing the costs, benefits and risks of the various alternatives, but instead has single-mindedly pursued the groundwater-mining solution.
For more information, click here.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
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By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
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“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
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