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Nevada Today

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News and informationOn The Water FrontSouthern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)

SNWA Water Grab Hearing Set

Ely, NV. Senior District t Court Judge Robert Estes will hear the next round of arguments concerning the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA’s) desire to pump hundreds of thousands of underground water from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar Valleys.

At question is the potential depletion of the groundwater resources over the long-term in violation of Nevada’s perennial yield standard.

Among other things, the Judge will hear arguments that SNWA’s applications in all four basins should be denied since “there is no substantial evidence showing that they will salvage, or capture, any significant amount of the natural discharge from those groundwater systems that are not already subject to prior appropriations.”[i]

In addition, the court will consider a remand decision which required the State Engineer to recalculate the water available for appropriation from Spring Valley assuring that the basin will (1) reach equilibrium between discharge and recharge in a reasonable time; and  (2) recalculate the appropriations from Cave Valley, Dry Lake Valley and Delamar Valley to avoid over appropriations or conflicts with down-gradient, existing water rights; and (3) define standards, thresholds or triggers so that mitigation of unreasonable effects from pumping of water is neither arbitrary nor capricious in Spring Valley, Cave Valley, Dry Lake Valley, and Delamar Valleys.

Petitioner White Pine County is also asking the court to overturn the State Engineer’s approval  of SNWA’s monitoring,  management, and mitigation (3M) plans for the pipeline applications which they feel has “glaring deficiencies”

In August 2018, Andrew Davey interviewed Patrick Donnelly, Nevada State Director for the Center for Biological Diversity, about his organization’s fight against the pipeline. According to Donnelly, “Multiple courts have said there’s no way you can pump water without decimating the communities that rely upon the water in this region.  That’s almost indisputable at this point. There’s no way you can mitigate draining an aquifer.”

Donnelly that the key flaw in the State Engineers argument that the same amount of water comes in through rain as it comes out through springs and evapotranspiration. The premise is that there’s excess water.”

Donnelly countered, “In reality, these basins are full of fossil water. These are not renewable resources. It’s a singular pot of water. If you take this water out, you won’t get it back.”

The hearing is scheduled at 9.m. Tuesday 12 to continue through Wednesday in the Seventh Judicial District Court at the White Pine County Courthouse, in Ely


[i] White Pine County, et al., and Consolidated Cases, petitioners, vs. Tim Wilson, P.E. Nevada State Engineer, Division of water Resources, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, No. CV-1204-049, Aug 27, 2019.

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Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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