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GBWN Press Release: February 10, 2015 — Las Vegas Water Grab Appeals Rejected by Nevada Supreme Court
    Press Coverage — Las Vegas Review Journal
    Press Coverage — AP

   About GBWN — The Great Basin Water Network (GBWN) protects the water resources of the Great Basin for current and future residents. GBWN is an all volunteer 501c3 Non-Government Organization (NGO). GBWN supports water conservation programs for urban and rural communities that address economic incentives for water smart-practices as opposed to building multi-million dollar water extraction projects. Read the latest GBWN Newsletter [11/2014] Water Gab Newsletter

   Litigation — Southern Nevada Water Authority's plans to convey millions of gallons of groundwater from central and eastern Nevada to Las Vegas have generated a deluge of legal challenges at the state and federal level. Pending before the Nevada Supreme Court is the appeal of Judge Estes' district court decision. At the federal level, GBWN's appeal of BLM's Record of Decision and Final EIS awaits action in federal district court in Las Vegas. Participating parties challenging the water decisions in court include Nevada and Utah local governments, Tribes, businesses, non-profit organizations (like GBWN) and a long list of citizens who have joined the fight: Read the legal Arguments.

   New Information & Documents [August / March 2015]

  • TTROUBLED WATERS: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water — Corporate Accountability International
  • Top 10 Myths about Desalination — By Genevieve D. Minter and Mark Bird
  • USGS Report — Hydrology Groundwater Movement, Snake Valley
  • Nevada State Engineer — Report to the Public Lands Committee on Listening Sessions
  • Pacific Institute — Corporate Water Disclosure Guidelines: Towards a Common Approach to Report Water Issues

   GBWN Events

   In The News — Below are press stories about the ongoing drought in the west; information about 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]

Photo - SNWA March 30, 2015 — Work on $650 million Lake Mead pump station starts — On an island at Lake Mead that stopped being an island more than a decade ago, the Southern Nevada Water Authority is about to launch the next phase of a 12-year building binge expected to last until 2020 and cost almost $1.5 billion. Design work is underway for a new $650 million deep-water pumping station that will draw from the very bottom of the lake. Seven construction firms have bid to build the facility on Lake Mead’s Saddle Island, which scarcely qualifies as a peninsula these days with the reservoir approaching another historic low — RJ.com

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images March 30, 2015 — What severe drought in the Colorado River Basin looks like — Lake Powell, one of the nation’s largest reservoirs, is now below 45 percent of its capacity. Straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, the man-made reservoir is part of the Colorado Water Basin that supplies water to 40 million people. Lake Powell stores water from states in the upper Colorado basin — New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming — for the states in the lower basin: Nevada, Arizona and California. Along with generating electricity, the reservoir also protects the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead from flooding — WashingtonPost.com

Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle March 28, 2015 — California drought: Sierra Nevada snowpack hits historic low — The abominable snowpack in the Sierra Nevada reached an unprecedented low this week, dipping below the historic lows in 1977 and 2014 for the driest winter in 65 years of record-keeping. Electronic surveys show the water content of the snow throughout the Sierra is a shocking 8 percent of the historical average for this time of year, by far the driest it has been since 1950, the year record-keeping began . . . SFgate.com

Photo - Las Vegas Sun March 22, 2015 — Water expert discusses actions Southern Nevada has taken and what we should plan for — Lake Mead’s elevation is just 1,087 feet above sea level and dropping steadily. Another 12 feet and the most severe drought-protection program the Southwest has ever seen will be triggered. If and when Lake Mead hits 1,075 feet, the government will declare a federal water shortage for the seven states that draw water from the Colorado River, forcing Nevada and the others to limit water use.

Worse, a report by climate scientists and NASA predicts the Southwest will be in a decades-long drought by midcentury — the worst in 1,000 years. Despite the sobering predictions, former Las Vegas water czar Pat Mulroy is confident life will go on in the West — Las Vegas Sun

Photo: Marilyn Newton/RGJ file March 19, 2015 — Cut water use in Reno-Sparks now, TMWA says — With the drought in its fourth year and this winter shaping up to be the driest yet, the major water provider for the Reno-Sparks area is asking folks to begin curbing water use immediately. The 118,000 homes and businesses served by the Truckee Meadows Water Authority are asked to reduce all water use by at least 10 percent from amounts consumed in 2013.

Also in response to continuing drought, the authority is expected by July 1 to begin tapping backup drought supplies stored in upstream reservoirs and to step up groundwater pumping to meet summer water demand — RGJ.com

Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal March 17, 2015 — Lawsuit alleges Vegas water authority cooked books on rural ranch profits — A former employee is accusing the Southern Nevada Water Authority of cooking its books to hide big losses at the ranches it owns in White Pine County. In a lawsuit filed March 6 against the authority and the Las Vegas Valley Water District, retired comptroller Randall Buie says he was forced out of his job after he refused to go along with creative accounting he considered fraudulent and misleading. Buie claims he was “harassed and bullied” into creating special financial reports that dramatically understated expenses to make the ranches look like they were turning a small profit when they were actually losing roughly $2 million per year — Las Vegas Review Journal

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli March 16, 2015 — California’s ridiculous run of record heat inflaming dire water situation — As California’s water supply is steadily dwindling, it is piling up warm weather records at a feverish pace. Disturbingly, the weather pattern responsible for this hot, dry pattern shows no signs of relenting as scientists gain more clues into what’s causing it. In a must-read Op-Ed published in the LA Times last Thursday, NASA’s Jay Famiglietti called for immediate water rationing in laying out several depressing facts about the state of water affairs in California, due to the drought . . . WashingtonPost.com

Sam Morris/Las Vegas Review-Journal March 12, 2015 — Forecasters predict another down year for Lake Mead — Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A lackluster year so far on the Colorado River has local water managers and National Park Service officials bracing for further declines at Lake Mead. According to the latest federal forecast, released Wednesday, the reservoir is expected to fall to a new record low next month and slip downward from there, shedding a total of about 20 feet through June 2016. The bleak new estimate is based on current projections pointing to below-average flows on the Colorado in the coming months, as the snow pack melts in the mountains that feed the river and its tributaries — RJ.com

Rob Mrowka, Center for Biological Diversity
March 11, 2015 — Growth and Water Loss Spell Sun Belt Trouble — LAS VEGAS (CN) – Population growth and drought in the Sun Belt are forcing residents and governments to find new water sources, particularly in the Las Vegas area, which has grown from around 25,000 in the 1950s to nearly 2 million today. More growth is expected in Las Vegas Valley, which is near the largest reservoir in the United States. A proposed 263-mile pipeline that would send water from the Great Basin to Las Vegas has met furious opposition and is tied up in state and federal courts. "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting," said Center for Biological Diversity scientist Rob Mrowka, quoting Mark Twain on water in the parched West . . . [Mrowka] says the proposed pipeline is among many issues facing the Desert Southwest as well as Las Vegas and could have a significant impact on far more than just population centers in the Southwest. "The big picture is: What is sustainable and viable for the American Southwest, given climate change?" Mrowka said. —courthousenews.com

Tom Myers March 09, 2015 — California is pumping water that fell to Earth 20,000 years ago — By now, the impacts of California’s unchecked groundwater pumping are well-known: the dropping water levels, dried-up wells and slowly sinking farmland in parts of the Central Valley. But another consequence gets less attention, one measured not by acre-feet or gallons-per-minute but the long march of time . . . “We are withdrawing from a fairly large bank account,” said Tom Myers, a hydrogeologic consultant in Reno, Nevada, who has worked in Southern California. “But we are withdrawing from it a lot faster than we are putting back in. The problem is we don’t know how close it is to empty.” — RevealNews.org

March 09, 2015 — Can Climate Action Plans Combat Megadrought and Save the Colorado River? — If a city’s water supply is threatened by climate change, should that city enact a strong climate action plan? I believe the answer is yes, but few cities throughout the Colorado River basin are moving forward aggressively to address climate change even though the threat is increasing every year — Gary Wockner, PhD, is executive director of the Save The Colorado River Campaign.

Photographer: Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg March 05, 2015 — Sin City's Thirst Is Drying Up the West — It’s Mammon versus Mormon as Las Vegas and its glittering towers of glass and greed seek to quench their growing thirst by draining billions of gallons of water from under the feet of ranchers whose cattle help feed the church’s poor. The biblical battle across 275 miles of treeless ridges and baked salt flats comes as the western U.S. faces unprecedented droughts linked to climate change. The surface of Las Vegas’s main source of water, Lake Mead, sits more than 100 feet below Hoover Dam’s spillways after reaching the lowest mark last summer since the dam was filled — by Edvard Pettersson, Blommberg

Photo, RJ.com March 03, 2015 — Water district signs off on rate hike for Lake Mead pump station — Las Vegas Valley Water District customers will see their rates go up in each of the next three years to help pay for a new deep-water pumping station at Lake Mead. The Clark County Commission, sitting as the board for the valley’s largest water utility, unanimously approved the rate hike Tuesday.

The increase will begin appearing on bills in January and be phased in through 2018, when it tops out with an increase of almost $5 per month for most residential customers. Commercial customers and others with larger service lines will pay substantially more — RJ.com

March 03, 2015 — Editorial: Utah’s water plan needs to account for climate change — Despite the growing research that less rain and snow will fall here in the coming decades, the people planning Utah's water future have not adjusted their models. A recent study from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has offered a stark prediction: If the current rates of human-generated emissions continues, there is an 80 percent chance of a 30- to 35-year megadrought in the American southwest — Sltrib.com

March 03, 2015 — Expert: overpopulation, city expansion likely cause of future Colorado River Basin water shortages — GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Experts say conservation efforts like not watering lawns, taking shorter showers, turning off faucets and not washing your vehicle are not going to help in a long-term solution for water shortages along the Colorado River Basin. According to John Weisheit conservation director for Living Rivers, the only thing that will stop water from disappearing is to put the brakes on city expansion and population growth — Havasunews.com

Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP March 02, 2015 — Glass half full? — On Jan. 1, I joined 15 friends on a raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. That morning, our boats were covered in snow; the canyon’s red cliffs, capped with white, looked like giant slabs of frosted carrot cake. The ranger said locals had never seen the place so wintry — hcn.org

March 02, 2015 — 6 Ways to Save the Salton Sea and Colorado Delta — With scientific modeling foreshadowing megadroughts in the Southwest and Great Plains, it is imperative policymakers implement freshwater projects along the lower Colorado River, in particular, the Salton Sea, a 376-square-mile freshwater agricultural sump in southeastern California, and in the Colorado River Delta where the waterway ends its journey in the Baja California desert — NationalGeographic.com

Februry 28, 2015 — Growing Utah town wants even more water via pipeline — ST. GEORGE, Utah – This corner of the Mojave Desert that locals call "Color Country" is a fast-growing little retirement haven with a water problem. With an application now before federal regulators, state and county officials hope to assure continued growth via a 140-mile pipeline from the Colorado River at Lake Powell — Azcentral.com

photo -- azcentral.com February 28, 2015 — Ongoing battle between urban and rural water users [Ranchers like Tom and Dean Baker are fighting to retain water rights on the Utah-Nevada border] — BAKER, Nev. – Black sand gurgled like a mud volcano from the bottom of Clay Springs, pushed aside by crystalline water rising to the desert's surface. Rancher Tom Baker stood in the marshy pasture beside one of the few oases that have kept his family ranching cattle across the Utah-Nevada line just downhill from Great Basin National Park. Cows romped and chewed in the green island surrounded by a sea of brittle brown greasewood. Baker shook his head in disgust. "To think you're going to take all the water out of the ground (to build) a few more blocks in Las Vegas," he said, practically spitting out his words. The urban Southwest has a water problem, and residents of this barely populated valley fear they'll be among the first casualties — Azcentral.com

photo -- azcentral.com February 28, 2015 — As the River Runs Dry: The Southwest's water crisis — LAS VEGAS – The patroller stopped his water district truck and grabbed his camcorder. "Here we go," he said, sliding from the cab and pointing his lens at the fine spray of water and rainbow rising from pop-up sprinklers on the lawn of a low-slung ranch home. Thursday," he spoke, recording the day as evidence. No watering allowed on Thursdays. Welcome to the future, where every drop of Colorado River water is guarded and squeezed. Only here, in the city that gets 90 percent of its water from the fickle and fading river, the future is now — Azcentral.com

February 26, 2015 — Pioneering Desert Fish Biologist, Researcher, and Staunch Advocate for Desert Ecosystems Dr. Jim Deacon Has Died — Over the course of his 55-year career, Deacon focused on the conservation of desert fish and other freshwater species and on sustainable water-use advocacy in the Southwest. His work contributed to the protection of several threatened and endangered aquatic species, helped secure water rights for Death Valley and Zion national parks, and helped create Ash Meadows and Moapa national wildlife refuges in Nevada — biologicaldiversity.org

February 25, 2015 — Business: Real thirst: With alkalized water brands tapping our precious local supply, has the bottled water business gone too far? — A few months ago in her Carson City home, Abby Johnson’s cleaning lady held up a bottle of Real Water and declared that the stuff had changed her life — she was sleeping better and feeling more energetic since she started drinking it, she said. “Let me see that,” Johnson replied, examining the bottle. Amid the fine print, she saw these words: “Source of water: Las Vegas Valley Water District.” — Story by Heidi Kyser

All 215 News Stories


   GBWN Video Files Baker Family Ranches Video The Consequences...Transporting Snake Valley Water to Satisfy a Thirsty Las Vegas: An Eastern Nevada Rancher's Story is a virtual water tour of Snake Valley. Baker Family Ranches has produced the DVD to help people understand that there is not enough water in Snake Valley to justify the Southern


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