Farming in Callao

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Arizona water, Nevada out-of-control growth

The feisty folks in the Beaver Dam, Arizona area are wondering why Mesquite, Nevada developers want Arizona water when the local Mesquite water authority, the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD), already has enough water for 5 times the current Mesquite population.

They especially want to know why the VVWD would willingly make an annual donation of 5,000 acre feet of water to Las Vegas Valley's SNWA if there is such a crying need to import water from Arizona to Mesquite. According to SNWA's web site, it resulted from one of SNWA's agreements, the likes of which they want rural Nevadans and the state of Utah to enter into -- all in the name of "water sharing" and ensuring that "future municipal water supplies will exist for the VVWD."

In other words, if you don't "partner" with us, we'll steamroller you. Such an agreement with Nevada's Lincoln County led that county to roll over and play dead in SNWA's pipeline scheme. Four federal Department of Interior agencies recently signed a stipulation agreement which resulted in withdrawing well application protests in exchange for a toothless monitoring process of talk, talk, talk, talk as environmental impacts develop. They have the other Colorado River states agreeing to almost anything to avoid a legal showdown over the Colorado River Compact.

SNWA has had lots of practice fine-tuning their strategy of agreements. They seem to be the 1,000-pound gorilla in whatever room they enter. Even though the UT-NV agreement mandated in public law 108-424 specifies direct negotiations between the two states, SNWA presence hovers over the agreement.

BTW - Thanks No Nevada Water Grab Committee for the link to this blog .


SNWA announcement

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Snake Valley budget - enough?

While several news stories have covered Governor Huntsman's proposed budget, it took a little digging to find anything about Snake Valley. In a PDF file detailing the Natural Resources budget, was this on page 119:

Expand monitoring of water resources
• Continue Division of Water Rights groundwater studies, concentrating on Utah and Nevada border water issues with $355,000 supplemental General Fund

Previously officials in the DNR had proposed a series of 13 monitor / test wells costing about $1 million. DNR chief Mike Styler had urged the Interim Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment to authorize that much for the project.

While we are grateful for the governor's support in so many ways, as well as that of the Legislature, this does not seem like enough money to ensure we get adequate baseline data prior to pumping. It certainly seems insufficient to study aquifer characteristics if SNWA's massive water exportation proposal were ever to begin taking water from the basin.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Chalk one for David over Goliath

Chalk one for David over Goliath

In Justices find argument for raiding Sandy Valley Basin doesn't hold water (Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nov. 29, 2006) John L. Smith reported a Nevada Supreme Court decision overturning a Nevada State Engineer decision approving an interbasin transfer of water for development in Primm. Residents of Sandy Valley, from which the water was to have been exported, rejoiced after their seven-year, against-the-odds victory.

The developer, Primm South Real Estate Company, had hired Vidler Water Company to handle their water applications. State Engineer Hugh Ricci (since retired) granted Vidler 415 acre-feet of water (out of Vidler's original request for 1,400 AF) based on Primm South's assertions they needed the full amount of water even though they could not currently use it all. Some was for future development. (During the water rights hearing, a Primm South executive stated, "if we can't use it we'll sell it".)

The state Supreme Court rejected the idea of speculation. District Judge David Wall upheld the state Engineer's decision, forcing Sandy Valley residents to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Along the way, the residents' original attorney died after a lengthy illness. Al Marquis, who owns the Kingston Ranch in the valley, stepped up and represented the community's successful appeal. The community raised $60,000 to fight the giant.

The justices found Ricci had, "failed to properly consider the evidence in determining the need for water in the import basin" and "failed to make the appropriate findings, his decision to grant Vidler Water's interbasin groundwater transfer application was not supported by substantial evidence."

Perhaps the NV State Engineer will invest a little extra time and thought into the decisions before him, related to SNWA's proposal. SNWA has requested 90,000 AF from Spring Valley (adjacent to Snake Valley) and almost 200,000 AF from all the basins from which it wants to export water. Southern Nevada won't need that much water until mid-century, however, even at their current out-of-control growth rate and their excessively high per capita water usage.

The Supreme Court's opinion quoted above could just as easily apply to SNWA's scheme for mining water from eastern Nevada and Western Utah.