There is good news to celebrate in a long struggle against the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s (SNWA) proposed groundwater pumping and pipeline project in Eastern Nevada, which would have caused significant impact to Great Basin National Park. Following a 30-year battle, the SNWA has decided not to appeal the March 2020 decision by Nevada District Court Judge Robert Estes to deny a significant portion of the water rights SNWA sought for the project, which he said could result in “water mining.”
The Coalition to Protect America’s Parks, along with the Great Basin Water Network, the Great Basin National Park Foundation, and the National Parks Conservation Association, has long opposed the project that put the continued protection of Great Basin National Park at risk.
The Great Basin Water Network and a coalition of groups opposing the project (including the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks), said “the litigation was another flash point in the fate of the pipeline – a 300-mile, $15.5 billion project that would drain Eastern Nevada’s groundwater supply.”
A few of the milestones in the Coalition’s advocacy for Great Basin National Park include:
- 12/9/07: Letter from Becky Mills on behalf of the Coalition to Senator Harry Reid asking him to request that the NPS Water Rights Branch brief his staff regarding potential effects of groundwater pumping on Great Basin National Park. Senator Reid did request the briefing and it was accomplished.
- 12/18/08: Letter from Bill Wade to the Secretary of Interior on behalf of the Coalition: “We are deeply concerned that the Southern Nevada Water Authority proposal to pump groundwater from Snake Valley in Nevada and Utah and transport it to Las Vegas will harm the natural resources of Great Basin National Park and the Great Basin Heritage Route.”
- 11/8/11: Testimony of Becky Mills at the Nevada Division of Water Resources Public Hearing on behalf of the Coalition: “There is not yet enough information to assure that park resources will not be adversely affected by this project as it may affect resources within the park boundaries and resources outside the park boundaries that are vital to the park’s natural systems and the visitors’ experience.”
- 9/30/12: Memorandum from Rick Smith on behalf of the Coalition to BLM Project Manager regarding BLM’s FEIS regarding the project: “We oppose any groundwater development for this project in Spring Valley (central and northern portion) unless and until there is enough science to allow full understanding of the potential impacts to Great Basin National Park.”
- 2/25-27/19: Coalition members Mark Butler and Alan O’Neill met with Nevada State Senators and Assembly Members to advocate against changes in Nevada water law that would have enabled the pumping and pipeline project. On February 27, 2019 Butler also testified before the Nevada State Assembly, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee to oppose the changes to Nevada water law.