In The News — Below are press stories about the ongoing drought in the west; press stories also cover the Southern Nevada Water Authority's "water grab" in Nevada and Utah; and other "mega" water projects that threaten the Great Basin. [Note: Stories open in new browser window]
Spring-Summer 2017 — Policy Debates over the Southern Nevada Water Authority Groundwater Development Project: Beneficial Uses of Water in a Desert — By Lisa W. Welsh, Joanna Endter-Wada, Journal of the Southwest, Volume 59, Numbers 1-2, Spring-Summer 2017, — Published by The Southwest Center, University of Arizona — PDF, 37 Pages. For additional information about this article Access provided by Utah State University Libraries (18 Jul 2017 20:43 GMT) https://doi.org/10.1353/jsw.2017.0014
What this study documents. . . Judge Estes ruled that the state engineer does have a responsibility to carefully consider how an assigned use will affect the collective, existing uses of that water in rural Nevada, including ecological uses. In addition, Judge Estes’s ruling showed that allocating water should require more thought than simply assigning the available water to existing users and water rights applicants.
Instead, allocating water necessitates a holistic view of the hydrologic system and a true understanding of how water uses interact within the system. Judge Estes’s ruling demonstrates that water allocation decision makers can and should take the time needed to clearly understand and evaluate the long-term impacts of a project, particularly one involving water rights granted in perpetuity
. . . Battles over water can be long-standing and arduous. This case study of rural Nevada’s groundwater is no exception; SNWA has maintained water rights applications for future development while protestants [GBWN] have been fighting these plans for over 25 years. Simeon Herskovits, attorney for the Great Basin Water Network [gbwn], explained the significance of Judge Estes’s ruling: “It could fundamentally change the way regulators review [SNWA’s] controversial pipeline.”
While Judge Estes’s decision validated many of the arguments that protestants made against SNWA’s project, the protestants are aware that Nevada water law is vague when it comes to recognizing environmental uses of water.
July 19, 2017 — Newly finished 50-year water plan marks a new era, Utah governor says — Gov. Gary Herbert on Wednesday heralded the completion of the state's new 50-year water management plan, a document four years in the making . . . The final draft does, however, still recommend the construction of both the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Project, each estimated to cost more than $1 billion. That fact displeases some environmentally minded members of Herbert's advisory team — sltrib.com
July 05, 2017 — California bill takes aim at Mojave Desert groundwater project with ties to Trump nominee — A new bill in the state Legislature would require California to review the environmental impacts of a company's proposal to pump groundwater from beneath the Mojave Desert and sell it to Southern California cities — a controversial plan that was slowed down by President Obama, but which appears to have the backing of the Trump administration — Desertsun.com
July 05, 2017 — Water experts: Climate change intensifying effects of persistent drought — The effects of global climate change are being felt in the West’s continuing drought, according to a panel discussion at UNLV last week. Wildfires have increased over the last several years, something one of Colby Pellegrino’s mentors told her years ago would show that climate change is legitimate — Las Vegas Sun
Jun 26, 2017 —
Opponents continue the fight against the water pipeline — with some unlikely allies at their side
— Standing on a hill overlooking Meadow Valley, near Pioche, a couple of people in a group from Las Vegas ask incredulously, “Is it natural?” Having left behind bone-dry desert when they turned off highway 93, they’re surprised by the lush vegetation blanketing the valley floor, food for the domesticated cows and wild deer that lounge on land settled by Farrel Lytle’s ancestors. Yes, the octogenarian Lytle affirms, with a quiet smile, his family and other ranchers have subsisted on the water that nourishes these pastures for 150 years — knpr.org
June 23, 2017 — Keeping an eye on Lake Mead — LAKE MEAD: Arizona risks losing water rights because of a lingering, nearly two-decade long drought in the Colorado River that could restrict water use ranging from farmers’ crops to how many households receive water, state water experts say. Calcium rings around Lake Mead tell the story of declining water levels, with cream markings permanently decorating the canyon walls that shows high levels that haven’t been seen since 1983. Current surface elevation is at 1,081 feet. If it drops another six feet, water to Arizona will likely be cut, according to an Arizona budget document — mohavedailynews.com
June 20, 2017 — Parched by drought, Lake Mead water levels continue to fall — LAKE MEAD: Arizona risks losing water rights because of a lingering, nearly two-decade long drought in the Colorado River that could restrict water use ranging from farmers’ crops to how many households receive water, state water experts say. Calcium rings around Lake Mead tell the story of declining water levels, with cream markings permanently decorating the canyon walls that shows high levels that haven’t been seen since 1983. Current surface elevation is at 1,081 feet. If it drops another six feet, water to Arizona will likely be cut, according to an Arizona budget document —