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Time Line, Groundwater Development Project
1989 — Present


Las Vegas Valley Water District files on all unappropriated water in Snake, Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar Valleys


Protests filed by local residents, conservation interests, Great Basin National Park (GBNP) and the Bureau of Land Management(BLM)

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Nevada Legislature adds interbasin water transfer requirements to Nevada's water law, thanks to the advocacy of knowledgeable water policy advocates


Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act (Public Law 108-424)) facilitates pipeline corridor. Also requires agreement between Nevada and Utah on the division of shared groundwater, EIS and BARCASS carbonate aquifer study

  • First road tour of Eastern Nevada areas targeted by SNWA project
  • Research into comparison between Nevada water grab and Owens Valley (Calif) initiated.

First water strategy meeting in Baker is held and the need is identified to establish a separate group to work on water importation projects.

  • Pacific Institute study on water conservation in southern Nevada begins. The study (link below) was published on November 26, 2007 — Hidden Oasis: Water Conservation and Efficiency in Las Vegas.
  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scoping process is initated (first try); activists turn out hundreds to public meetings and generates thousands of comments.
  • Senator Harry Reid (NV) dedicates Great Basin National Park (GBNP) Visitors Center.

Great Basin Water Network (GBWN) is founded.

  • Nevada State Engineer (NSE) holds hearing on 1989 Spring Valley protests.
  • Agreement by Souther Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), BLM, The National Park Service (NPS), the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Bureau of Intian Affaires (BIA) [without tribes' consent] is signed. The agreement stipulates withdrawal of federal protests of SNWA applications in Spring Valley for future monitoring and mitigation program of groundwater pumping impacts. (This was a secret process — the public and White Pine County, NV were excluded.)
  • GBWN files due process lawsuit over NSE exclusion of protestant successors and new residents and lack of notification of protestants.
  • BLM re-scopes Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) because project description changes. (more on EIS process)
  • Road tour initiated in June to show people the areas in Lincoln and White Pine Counties affected by the water grab.

GBWN receives 501 (c) (3) tax exempt status.

  • NSE rules in favor of SNWA, approving 80,000 Acre Feet (afa) of annual pumping in Spring Valley following 3 periods of testing and monitoring (GBWN did not appeal the Spring Valley ruling).
  • Water Grabb receives expansion of media coverage nationally and internationally, and reports published by Defenders of Wildlife and The Pacific Institute are released
  • Spotlight report reveals secret negotiations between Nevada and Utah officials on shared water agreement
  • SNWA purchases ranches in Spring Valley Nevada ($78.9M).

New allies join GBWN, including the Nevada agricultural community, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks Conservation Association


First Snake Valley Festival is organized to raise awareness and funds to support GBWN's efforts.


Nevada Supreme Court unanimously rules in GBWN's favor in challenge to Spring Valley protest process .

  • Utah Governor withdraws Utah negotiators from talks on water agreement after Supreme Court ruling.
  • NSE reopens protest period.
  • SNWA refiles all its applications.
  • GBWN and residents protest applications again; 2,300 protests filed. NSE does not combine the protests; filing fees cost $56,000.
  • GBWN and allies successfully defeat SNWA lobby efforts for a "legislative fix" to the Supreme Court ruling.

NSE rehears Spring and CDD (Cave, Dry Lake, & Delamar Valleys) , a grueling and costly six week process. Attorneys for GBWN, LDS ranch in Spring Valley, Goshute Tribe, 2 Utah counties, and Eskdale present protest cases.

  • NSE receives over 23,000 public comments opposing the SNWA applications .In-person comments draw many tribal members and last an entire day
  • BLM releases Draft EIS for public comment, holds 9 hearings. GBWN turns out hundreds and gather 20,461 public comments.
  • GBWN publishes EIS guide to encourage participation. EIS discloses $15.7 Billion project cost, and devastating impacts to an area larger than Vermont.

NSE approves a total of 84,000 afy from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, & Delamar Valleys. Snake Valley applications remain in limbo pending bi-state negotiations


Governor of Utah announces he will not sign the Nevada Utah Agreement, which was negotiated in secret between the states over the past five years. GBWN and Utah allies declare victory . . . for now.


The NSE and SNWA appeal Judge Estes' ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court, and SNWA Board moves ahead with the "Water Grab."


Nevada State Supreme Court Developments

  • All parties’ briefing on the merits of SNWA’s and the Nevada State Engineer’s appeals was completed during the fall, ending in December of 2014. Then, this past February, the Court issued an order dismissing SNWA’s and the State Engineer’s original appeals on the ground that Senior District Judge Estes’s 2013 ruling, which overturned the State Engineer’s approval of SNWA’s water rights for the Project, was a remand order and not a properly appealable final order.
  • It is important to recognize that the Supreme Court’s order dismissing the original appeals does not truly dispose of the issues on appeal because both SNWA and the State Engineer resubmitted all the same issues through Petitions for Writs of Mandamus that still are pending before the Court. [More Information]


Time-line: Federal lawsuit against the Record of Decision (ROD) approving SNWA’s Pipeline Project.

New Federal Website - Colorado River Basin Insights using open data.

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