For Immediate Release, April 16, 2020

Contact:

Patrick Donnelly, Center for Biological Diversity, (702) 483-0449, pdonnelly@biologicaldiversity.org
Kyle Roerink, Great Basin Water Network, (702) 324-9662, kyle4gbwn@gmail.com
Laura Martin, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, (702) 292-1279, lmartin@planevada.org

Nevada Water Officials to Abandon Appeal of Massive Las Vegas Pipeline Project

Some State, Federal Permits Still Pending

LAS VEGAS— The Southern Nevada Water Authority announced today it won’t appeal a recent court loss denying water rights for its massive groundwater pipeline development project.

“We’re thrilled that the water authority says it’s abandoning this destructive pipeline boondoggle,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Eastern Nevada’s fragile ecosystems and rural communities have won a reprieve, but the fight isn’t over. As long as pipeline permits are still alive, our struggle continues.”

The 300-mile pipeline project would siphon 7.8 billion gallons of water a year from desert groundwater basins on public lands in eastern Nevada to fill swimming pools and water golf courses in Las Vegas. It would threaten to dry up hundreds of springs and thousands of acres of wetlands, including in two national park units and several national wildlife refuges.

The water authority still has pending water rights applications and an application for the pipeline’s right of way with the Bureau of Land Management.

“Great Basin residents can breathe a great sigh of relief,” said Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network. “Our attorneys, White Pine County officials, tribes and front-line communities have said this project was illegal for more than three decades. Today’s news vindicates their fierce opposition and years of fighting a David vs. Goliath battle. But SNWA must revoke its remaining water rights applications and withdraw its right-of-way application.”

Nevadans and Great Basin indigenous communities have waged a 30-year political and legal campaign to stop construction of the $15 billion pipeline. In its most recent court loss, a Nevada district court judge ruled that the harm from water withdrawals for the pipeline could not be sufficiently mitigated to protect the environment and communities from irreparable harm.

“SWNA’s pipeline plan prioritized the profits of Southern Nevada over the lives of rural Nevadans,” said Laura Martin, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “Since PLAN’s founding we have proudly stood with the Great Basin Water Network and our allies, and will continue to protest this water grab until SNWA withdraws their water rights applications. This isn’t over until SNWA completely cuts all ties to the project.”

A coalition of environmentalists, Native American tribes, ranchers, rural communities, and local governments banded together 30 years ago to fight the pipeline under the banner of the Great Basin Water Network. The network and White Pine County were the plaintiffs in the litigation that the Southern Nevada Water Authority abandoned today.

Eastern Nevada is home to the Western Shoshone people, and their legal and political advocacy has been a central feature of the fight against the pipeline. The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada worked to mobilize native communities and helped organize a sacred prayer run along the route of the pipeline in 2018.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Great Basin Water Network was formed to protect the water resources of the Great Basin for current and future residents, animals and plants.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) was founded in 1994 to bring together diverse and potentially competing organizations into one cohesive force for social and environmental justice in Nevada. Since 1994, our organization has grown from 12 original founding member groups to a current membership of nearly 30 organizations.

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