Great Basin's Nature Under Attack: Take Action
The Southern Nevada Water Authority has submitted a right-of-way application to the Bureau of Land Management for a 300-plus-mile pipeline to export more than 57 billion gallons of water a year from Great Basin aquifers that were filled by melting ice sheets more than 10,000 years ago. The water would go to the Las Vegas Valley, where it would promote and facilitate unsustainable urban growth in the driest desert in the North America.
The impacts of this amount of proposed pumping are staggering. Water tables would drop up to 200 feet, and more than 192,000 acres of prime Great Basin shrubland habitats would be dried, destroyed and converted to dry-land grasses and annuals, including invasive species such as cheatgrass and Sahara mustard. More than 8,000 acres of wetlands would be destroyed, and more than 310 springs and 125 miles of perennial streams damaged -- in some cases completely dried up.
The toll taken on rare and endangered species would also be staggering, with extinctions of some desert fish and springsnails likely. And the impacts wouldn't end there. Widespread harm to other species -- such as the imperiled greater sage grouse, southwestern willow flycatcher, Columbia spotted frog, northern leopard frog and Bonneville cutthroat trout, along with iconic species such as mule deer, pronghorn antelope and elk -- would also occur, threatening the natural heritage of the Great Basin in eastern Nevada and western Utah.
The tragedy is that, in its own water-resources reports, the Southern Nevada Water Authority discloses it can increase supply through enhanced conservation by an amount greater than the envisioned pipeline would provide. Other options are available as well, such as growth-management provisions and studying trading ocean desalinized water for Colorado River waters.
Please tell the Bureau of Land Management Director that this is unacceptable stewardship: The BLM must deny the right-of-way application for this destructive project. There are far better options for securing the water future of Las Vegas than laying waste to the heart of the Great Basin.