Center for Biological Diversity

Don't Let Nevada Water Hogs Drain the Great Basin

Greater sage grouse
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Ecosystems of Nevada and western Utah are under attack: The Southern Nevada Water Authority has submitted a right-of-way application to the Bureau of Land Management for a 300-mile pipeline to export more than 57 billion gallons of water a year from Great Basin aquifers. These aquifers were filled by ice sheets that melted 10,000 years ago; their water would go to Las Vegas, a city just over a century old trying to expand in the driest desert in North America.

The Center for Biological Diversity, along with its coalition partners in the Great Basin Water Network, successfully stripped the water authority of any rights to water for the pipeline, but the authority has reapplied. The decision to grant or deny the request is now before the state’s water engineer.

The proposed groundwater removal would be devastating. Water tables would drop by 200 feet, and 192,000-plus acres of prime Great Basin shrubland would be dried, destroyed and converted to dryland grasses and annuals. Eight thousand acres of wetlands would be destroyed, and 310 springs and 125 miles of perennial streams would be depleted or drained.

The toll on wildlife would also be staggering, and the extinction of some desert fish and springsnails is likely. The imperiled greater sage grouse (pictured here), southwestern willow flycatcher and Columbia spotted frog would be hung out to dry, along with iconic species such as pronghorn and elk.

All of this is a needless waste of life. In its own water-resources reports, the Southern Nevada Water Authority admits it can increase supply through enhanced conservation by an amount greater than the pipeline would provide.

Jason King, the Nevada water engineer, needs to be told immediately that this pipeline is not an option. Please, write to him today and tell your friends to do the same.

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Please take action by November 28, 2011.

Photo of Greater Sage Grouse © Carol Davis.

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