GBWN Press Release: February 10, 2015 — Las Vegas Water Grab Appeals Rejected by Nevada Supreme Court
Litigation — Southern Nevada Water Authority's plans to convey millions of gallons of groundwater from central and eastern Nevada to Las Vegas have generated a deluge of legal challenges at the state and federal level. Pending before the Nevada Supreme Court is the appeal of Judge Estes' district court decision. At the federal level, GBWN's appeal of BLM's Record of Decision and Final EIS awaits action in federal district court in Las Vegas. Participating parties challenging the water decisions in court include Nevada and Utah local governments, Tribes, businesses, non-profit organizations (like GBWN) and a long list of citizens who have joined the fight: Read the legal Arguments.
New Information & Documents [August / March 2015]
March 22, 2015 — Water expert discusses actions Southern Nevada has taken and what we should plan for — Lake Mead’s elevation is just 1,087 feet above sea level and dropping steadily. Another 12 feet and the most severe drought-protection program the Southwest has ever seen will be triggered. If and when Lake Mead hits 1,075 feet, the government will declare a federal water shortage for the seven states that draw water from the Colorado River, forcing Nevada and the others to limit water use.
March 09, 2015 — California is pumping water that fell to Earth 20,000 years ago — By now, the impacts of California’s unchecked groundwater pumping are well-known: the dropping water levels, dried-up wells and slowly sinking farmland in parts of the Central Valley. But another consequence gets less attention, one measured not by acre-feet or gallons-per-minute but the long march of time . . . “We are withdrawing from a fairly large bank account,” said Tom Myers, a hydrogeologic consultant in Reno, Nevada, who has worked in Southern California. “But we are withdrawing from it a lot faster than we are putting back in. The problem is we don’t know how close it is to empty.” — RevealNews.org
March 09, 2015 — Can Climate Action Plans Combat Megadrought and Save the Colorado River? — If a city’s water supply is threatened by climate change, should that city enact a strong climate action plan? I believe the answer is yes, but few cities throughout the Colorado River basin are moving forward aggressively to address climate change even though the threat is increasing every year — Gary Wockner, PhD, is executive director of the Save The Colorado River Campaign.
March 05, 2015 — Sin City's Thirst Is Drying Up the West — It’s Mammon versus Mormon as Las Vegas and its glittering towers of glass and greed seek to quench their growing thirst by draining billions of gallons of water from under the feet of ranchers whose cattle help feed the church’s poor. The biblical battle across 275 miles of treeless ridges and baked salt flats comes as the western U.S. faces unprecedented droughts linked to climate change. The surface of Las Vegas’s main source of water, Lake Mead, sits more than 100 feet below Hoover Dam’s spillways after reaching the lowest mark last summer since the dam was filled — by Edvard Pettersson, Blommberg
March 03, 2015 — Water district signs off on rate hike for Lake Mead pump station — Las Vegas Valley Water District customers will see their rates go up in each of the next three years to help pay for a new deep-water pumping station at Lake Mead. The Clark County Commission, sitting as the board for the valley’s largest water utility, unanimously approved the rate hike Tuesday.
The increase will begin appearing on bills in January and be phased in through 2018, when it tops out with an increase of almost $5 per month for most residential customers. Commercial customers and others with larger service lines will pay substantially more — RJ.com
March 03, 2015 — Editorial: Utah’s water plan needs to account for climate change — Despite the growing research that less rain and snow will fall here in the coming decades, the people planning Utah's water future have not adjusted their models. A recent study from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has offered a stark prediction: If the current rates of human-generated emissions continues, there is an 80 percent chance of a 30- to 35-year megadrought in the American southwest — Sltrib.com
March 03, 2015 — Expert: overpopulation, city expansion likely cause of future Colorado River Basin water shortages — GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Experts say conservation efforts like not watering lawns, taking shorter showers, turning off faucets and not washing your vehicle are not going to help in a long-term solution for water shortages along the Colorado River Basin. According to John Weisheit conservation director for Living Rivers, the only thing that will stop water from disappearing is to put the brakes on city expansion and population growth — Havasunews.com
March 02, 2015 — Glass half full? — On Jan. 1, I joined 15 friends on a raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. That morning, our boats were covered in snow; the canyon’s red cliffs, capped with white, looked like giant slabs of frosted carrot cake. The ranger said locals had never seen the place so wintry — hcn.org
March 02, 2015 — 6 Ways to Save the Salton Sea and Colorado Delta — With scientific modeling foreshadowing megadroughts in the Southwest and Great Plains, it is imperative policymakers implement freshwater projects along the lower Colorado River, in particular, the Salton Sea, a 376-square-mile freshwater agricultural sump in southeastern California, and in the Colorado River Delta where the waterway ends its journey in the Baja California desert — NationalGeographic.com
Februry 28, 2015 — Growing Utah town wants even more water via pipeline — ST. GEORGE, Utah – This corner of the Mojave Desert that locals call "Color Country" is a fast-growing little retirement haven with a water problem. With an application now before federal regulators, state and county officials hope to assure continued growth via a 140-mile pipeline from the Colorado River at Lake Powell — Azcentral.com
February 28, 2015 — Ongoing battle between urban and rural water users [Ranchers like Tom and Dean Baker are fighting to retain water rights on the Utah-Nevada border] — BAKER, Nev. – Black sand gurgled like a mud volcano from the bottom of Clay Springs, pushed aside by crystalline water rising to the desert's surface. Rancher Tom Baker stood in the marshy pasture beside one of the few oases that have kept his family ranching cattle across the Utah-Nevada line just downhill from Great Basin National Park. Cows romped and chewed in the green island surrounded by a sea of brittle brown greasewood. Baker shook his head in disgust. "To think you're going to take all the water out of the ground (to build) a few more blocks in Las Vegas," he said, practically spitting out his words. The urban Southwest has a water problem, and residents of this barely populated valley fear they'll be among the first casualties — Azcentral.com
February 28, 2015 — As the River Runs Dry: The Southwest's water crisis — LAS VEGAS – The patroller stopped his water district truck and grabbed his camcorder. "Here we go," he said, sliding from the cab and pointing his lens at the fine spray of water and rainbow rising from pop-up sprinklers on the lawn of a low-slung ranch home. Thursday," he spoke, recording the day as evidence. No watering allowed on Thursdays. Welcome to the future, where every drop of Colorado River water is guarded and squeezed. Only here, in the city that gets 90 percent of its water from the fickle and fading river, the future is now — Azcentral.com
February 26, 2015 — Pioneering Desert Fish Biologist, Researcher, and Staunch Advocate for Desert Ecosystems Dr. Jim Deacon Has Died — Over the course of his 55-year career, Deacon focused on the conservation of desert fish and other freshwater species and on sustainable water-use advocacy in the Southwest. His work contributed to the protection of several threatened and endangered aquatic species, helped secure water rights for Death Valley and Zion national parks, and helped create Ash Meadows and Moapa national wildlife refuges in Nevada — biologicaldiversity.org
February 25, 2015 — Business: Real thirst: With alkalized water brands tapping our precious local supply, has the bottled water business gone too far? — A few months ago in her Carson City home, Abby Johnson’s cleaning lady held up a bottle of Real Water and declared that the stuff had changed her life — she was sleeping better and feeling more energetic since she started drinking it, she said. “Let me see that,” Johnson replied, examining the bottle. Amid the fine print, she saw these words: “Source of water: Las Vegas Valley Water District.” — Story by Heidi Kyser
February 25, 2015 — Top official delivers bleak forecast for Lake Mead — WASHINGTON — Nevada faces “significant possibilities” of water shortages if drought on the Colorado River persists into the next two years, according to an ominous forecast delivered Wednesday by a top government official. Michael Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, said there is a 20 percent chance of shortages in Nevada and Arizona in 2016 if levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell continue to drop, “and it goes up to almost 50 percent after that — RJ.com
February 22, 2015 — Will Utah be ready for a drier, hotter climate?— The specter of drought hanging over the Southwest is already pretty dire, with forests drying out into beetle-killed tinderboxes and reservoir levels plunging. But the current dry spell may barely register in comparison with what has happened in the distant past and could happen in the near future, according to research released this month. And we may have ourselves to blame — sltrib.com
February 20, 2015 — Record West Coast drought shows no signs of easing — The flip side to the frigid weather in much of the U.S. is record warmth in the West. Parts of Alaska hit the mid-50s this week. And it's dry -- 93 percent of California is in a severe drought that's going on four years — CBS News
February 18, 2015 — Colorado mountain snow is bright spot during drought in West: DENVER — Snowpack in the mountain valleys where the Colorado River originates was only a little below normal on Wednesday, marking one of the few bright spots in an increasingly grim drought gripping much of the West. Measurement stations in western Colorado showed the snowpack at 90 percent of the long-term average.
By contrast, reporting stations in the Sierra Nevada range in drought-stricken California showed snowpack at 50 percent or less in early February, the most recent figures available. Some detected no snow at all — Abqjournal.com
February 12, 2015 — Study: Snake Valley groundwater development unsustainable — SALT LAKE CITY – A hydrologic study commissioned by the Utah Legislature seven years ago concludes any significant groundwater development in Snake Valley and adjacent areas is not sustainable and even current pumping is drawing down the aquifer. The study, released Thursday, compiled data from a monitoring network developed by the Utah Geological Survey that includes wells placed in farm land, ranching areas, springs and at remote sites. A total of 76 wells recorded water levels hourly and six sites featured spring flow gauges . . . Simeon Herskovitz, an attorney who has represented multiple groups and individuals suing Nevada over the issue, praised the report's findings and said it should be evidence enough to compel the Southern Nevada Water Authority to back off its groundwater pumping plan — DesertNews.com
[Direct Link to the Study - 294 Pages, 82.5MB]
February 12, 2015 — Southwest now 50 percent, study concludes — The chance of a "megadrought" gripping the Southwest for more than 30 years has increased to 50 percent, scientists say, which means bad news for California's already parched landscape. The odds of a 10-year drought afflicting the southwestern U.S. have increased to 80 percent, according to a new study by Cornell University, the University of Arizona and the U.S. Geological Survey — SacBee.com
More Coverage: Warming Pushes Western U.S. Toward Driest Period in 1,000 Years — Astrobio.net
More Coverage: Worst Drought in 1,000 Years Predicted for American West — National Geographics
GBWN Video Files Baker Family Ranches Video — The Consequences...Transporting Snake Valley Water to Satisfy a Thirsty Las Vegas: An Eastern Nevada Rancher's Story is a virtual water tour of Snake Valley. Baker Family Ranches has produced the DVD to help people understand that there is not enough water in Snake Valley to justify the Southern