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GBWN Press Release — March 10, 2020

Las Vegas Pipeline Opponents Claim Victory as Court Rules Against Appeal
Southern Nevada Water Authority Fails to Convince Judge

Baker, Nev — In yet another victory in court for the Great Basin Water Network and White Pine County, Nevada’s Seventh Judicial District Court Judge Robert Estes has denied an appeal by the Southern Nevada Water Authority –– invalidating water rights for the Las Vegas water grab and pipeline.

The proposed 300-mile pipeline would siphon billions of gallons of groundwater per year from remote basins in Eastern Nevada, piping it to Las Vegas to feed green lawns, golf courses, and sprawl development. The resultant declines in the water table would decimate hundreds of springs, thousands of acres of wetlands, and impact Great Basin National Park and numerous National Wildlife Refuges.

Residents of Eastern Nevada and lovers of the Great Basin have been fighting the pipeline proposal for over 30 years. The Great Basin Water Network has partnered with White Pine County to fight the project in court, represented by public interest water attorney Simeon Herskovits with Advocates for Community and Environment.

“Judge Estes saw clearly through the various subterfuges and false reasoning advanced by both SNWA and the State Engineer, and he systematically ruled against them on every significant point in contention," said Herskovits. "In our view, the rigor and care in Judge Estes’s ruling makes it highly unlikely that any part of this ruling would be subject to reversal on appeal. Under any reasonable reading, this powerful ruling should sound the death knell for this fatally misguided and potentially devastating groundwater export proposal.”

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s pipeline proposal has lost repeatedly in both state and federal courts. In 2013, Judge Estes remanded the water rights applications back to the Nevada Division of Water Resources, finding many conflicts under the law. Following through on the remand, in 2018, the Division denied the water rights applications. Southern Nevada Water Authority then appealed the remand, resulting in today’s order from Judge Estes.

Additionally, in 2017 a federal district court judge remanded portions of the federal Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline’s right of way back to BLM, finding it insufficient in its proposed mitigation measures and suggesting that some impacts may not be mitigated.

“SNWA has no right-of-way for the pipeline and no rights to water with which to fill the pipeline," said Kyle Roerink, GBWN executive director. "This project is dead in the water. It’s time for SNWA to finally move on.”

Press Coverage

March 18, 2020 — Thomas Mitchell: Rural water grab may be dead in the water — A state judge’s implacable ruling this past week may have finally forestalled attempts by the Clark County water agency to tap groundwater from White Pine, Nye and Lincoln counties. Senior District Judge Robert Estes rejected proposals by the state water engineer to grant groundwater rights to the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), calling the plan illogical, contrary to state water law, as well as arbitrary and capricious —

March 10, 2020 — Commissioner calls on water authority 'to look in a different direction' as District Court judge reaffirms decision to deny water for Las Vegas pipeline — A District Court judge has once again scuttled the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to obtain and pump rural groundwater about 300 miles from eastern Nevada, prompting one Clark County commissioner to call on the water authority “to look in a different direction.” Senior District Court Judge Robert Estes, presiding over the 7th Judicial District Court, ruled that the state’s water law does not support the project. The court order, filed on March 9, denied the water authority a portion of the rights for the project, which it said could result in “water mining” —

March 10, 2020 — UPDATED: District court judge deals blow to Las Vegas pipeline plan — Rupert Steele says he’s looking forward to his next trip to Nevada’s rural Spring Valley. That’s because Steele, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, will be bearing good news for his relatives. He was talking about a recent ruling by District Court Judge Robert Estes that dealt a severe blow to a proposal to pipe groundwater from the Spring Valley and other spots in eastern Nevada to Las Vegas —

The Great Basin Water Network was formed to protect the water resources of the Great Basin for current and future residents – human, animal and plant.

Kyle Roerink
Executive Director
Great Basin Water Network

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