Horse News

BLM Approves Massive Las Vegas Water Pipeline Project

Information supplied by multiple sources

“Does this explain the BLM’s War on Nevada’s Wild Horses & Burros?”

pipeline-mapCARSON CITY, Nev. — The Bureau of Land Management recently signed off on a massive pipeline project to carry billions of gallons of water to Las Vegas from rural counties along the Nevada-Utah line.

The record of decision, signed by Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes, authorizes the BLM to issue a right of way to Southern Nevada Water Authority for the 263-mile pipeline that will stretch from the rural areas to the desert gambling metropolis that is home to some 2 million people and attracts 40 million visitors annually.

“This is a huge milestone for southern Nevada,” said Patricia Mulroy, the water authority’s general manager.

She said being able to “draw upon a portion of our own state’s renewable groundwater supplies reduces our dependence on the drought-prone Colorado River and provides a critical safety net.”

The Colorado River flows into Lake Mead, southern Nevada’s main water source. A recent study projected moderate to severe water shortages over the next several decades.

Lake Mead’s surface level has dropped about 100 feet since 2000 because of ongoing drought and increasing demand from the seven states and more than 25 million people sharing Colorado River water rights.

“What the study really told us was that we must prepare for a much drier future and that we can’t count on the Colorado River to sustain our community in the way it once did,” Mulroy said.

Environmentalists decried the decision, which comes two decades after the concept began to take shape and after years of litigation. More lawsuits are expected to follow.

Nevada’s state engineer, Jason King, granted the water authority permission in March to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year from four rural valleys in Lincoln and White Pine counties. An acre-foot is the volume of water needed to cover an acre of land with water 12 inches deep — about 326,000 gallons. King’s rulings are being challenged in state court.

The pipeline approved by the BLM Thursday is needed to deliver that water to the southern Nevada’s population center.

Simeon Herskovits, an attorney in Taos, N.M., representing a coalition of ranchers, farmers, rural local governments and environmentalists, said the BLM decision was being reviewed but added that unless “serious deficiencies” in an earlier environmental study have been corrected, the decision to approve the pipeline cannot “be scientifically, economically or legally sound.”

The BLM’s decision follows findings made in November by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the project would not significantly affect about a dozen threatened or endangered species.

Environmentalists say otherwise.

“Some of Nevada’s rarest, most unique species rely on wetlands and springs,” said Rob Mrowka with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Las Vegas water grab could undo all that and drive them extinct in the blink of any eye.”

BLM spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said the decision authorizes the “main conveyance and support facilities” to be built on federally owned land. It’s the last administrative ruling by the federal agency, and further challenges will be handled by the courts.

She said environmental studies will still be required on specific aspects of the project as it is built.

But Herskovits said smaller environmental studies are no consolation after the project as a whole is given a green light.

“We don’t feel that offers an adequate safeguard,” he said.

Critics also said the BLM relied on outdated or faulty data and that the project’s price tag, once estimated around $3 billion, would likely approach $16 billion. That expense, they said, should have been addressed in the agency’s environmental report to determine if the project was financially feasible.

21 replies »

  1. When I saw the ‘request for public comments’ I gave them an earful. They cried ‘drought’ to condone a roundup or 2 or 3 then turn around and ask to build a pipeline to carry enough water away from the ‘drought’ area to subsidize a city the size of Las Vegas. Ludicrous. In the document it explained the lengths to which they have to go to keep water available not just for the horses but even down to the little ramps up the side of the troughs so the little creatures can get to it. A total disruption of nature to get water to an obviously over crowded city.

    You would think that a city in this day and time would do their research before allowing more development of residential and business areas i.e. where do we get the water to sustain these folks from?

    I know…let’s gather a large group of the population of Vegas, geld the men and give birth control to the women, then take their children off to another place to live. That way they can’t destroy their habitat by producing more people and the burden on the current water supply will be drastically reduced. (The elderly ones we’ll just lock up in never never land.) That will solve the whole problem and look how much money we’ll save from not building a pipeline.


    • I heat you loud and clear. Perhaps if they did it to most of Congress w wouldn’t have so many idiots populating this country.


  2. Renewable groundwater? Wonder if that’s what the engineers long ago claimed of the Sahara aquifer too? Vegas has already sucked the CO river dry, now they need to wipeout entire ecosystems for more fountains, more showers, more commodes. It’s outright theft.Too bad those 40 million visitors don’t boycott NV for its abuse of wild horses. Guess welfare grazing will end sooner rather than later if the lawsuits don’t halt this ill-conceived plan.


    • Lisa the only thing I can think of as renewable groundwater would be snow melt. Anybody else think of any other? Obviously Vegas is way over it’s AML and their HMA cannot be re-sized without it being worked out in the public land usage plans which will take years so I still think a ’roundup’ is in order…


  3. The folks in LV simply don’t want the constraints imposed by the truth—living in a desert should not allow grandiose fountains, artificial wave pools, lakes imitating Venice, Italy and other such capricious frivolity. We are not talking here about the drinking/bathing water to be denied the citizens of LV—the city and its citizens wallow in the crazy illusions they create in flinging precious water about like it is endless. The attitude of the decadent is to spoil all they get their hands on and say “so what?”


  4. This explains a whole lot..Who cares about shoring up Las VEgas with a Pipeline..when precious wildlife is threatened..our heritage is the wildlife..not stupid Vegas.


  5. Money to be made, folks! And thats all that matters. Just more of the BLM’s always relying on faulty data & going on their merry way. What do the people who live in those four “rural valleys”think about this? I would imagine they are pretty upset, too. Imagine having the water around your neighborhood piped away so LV can have their light & water shows & so the tourists dont have to feel they are in the desert! DUH…. And of course to top it off, pushing the horses farther & farther out of their homes.


  6. This is so wrong! I gave professional testimony against this insane draining of eastern Nevada’s and parts of western Utah’s water! This must be stopped in the courts. Another megalopolis at the expense of what remains of the natural world. This would be so utterly wrong and would be inimical to the hearty wild horse herds remaining here!


    • Curious. What year did this first come up? This is my suggestion, Nevada. Recall Senator Harry Reid for the sake of the West and the country. Get him out of office so the Congress can be held accountable and dirty deals like this will stop. He thinks he’s king of Nevada and that 85% of public land is his person kingdom to divvy out as he pleases. Of course, Nevada has one if not the highest unemployment rates in the country, and the price of homes in Las Vegas has plummeted. Senator Reid’s assistance in helping dismantle the strength of the American economy is not going to get tourists and conventions to Nevada. Companies are going broke and cutting loose employees because they can’t afford their employees. The hospitality industry is going nowhere. If there is a singular politician in the history of modern times who deserves to be removed from office it is Senator Reid.

      There are other legal, nonviolent metods to have him removed, but a recall by Nevadans has the greatest likelihood of success.


    This too, public lands ranching….and of course energy extraction companies that want water rights below the surface. The horses drink such an insignificant amount of water – they are not starving – I am just getting angrier and angrier at the insanity of industrial civilization that I hardly know how to handle my dismay. I know I am not alone in this. It’s inevitable – I hope so anyway – that people are going to eventually explode over this stuff because if we DON’T – we are going to lose all our wild horses except for those in Sanctuaries. Craig Downer wants to use Reserve Design to save our wild horses: “Reserve Design combines ecological, social, and political considerations in order to achieve desired results. Basically, wild horse/burro Reserve Design involves the setting aside of areas of wild-equid-containing, year-round habitat where human intervention is buffered against and strictly controlled, and where natural processes are allowed to reestablish natural checks and balances. In this way, a significant degree of internal harmony is achieved for all diverse yet interrelated species living in the area’s ecosystem.” For more information on how to support this proposal through a tax-deductible contribution, and the level of support required, please contact Craig Downer.


  8. Blaming Reid for everything? Ranchers are wild specimens too since I can’t really call them human. Getting Slaughterzar out of office might help things. Haven’t heard about that recently.


  9. Oh gee. It’s now going to affect the livestock and turn all but Las Vegas into a real dessert. Damn the ranchers and their cows. They’ve destroyed the mustangs. Watch the mass exodus from Nevada thanks to the BLM and their mismanagement. Damn Nevada altogether.i, for one, won’t be going there for anything not spending a dime to support anything in or from that state.

    Hey, if that Delos Santos guy can sue the government (and the rescues) why can’t we? I was under the impression that we couldn’t sue the government?


  10. The fate of our public lands, our wild heritage is minor to who heads up DOD and CIA? If that’s the case, what’s there to defend besides our cities?


    Bureau of Land Management and DOI Missing $168 Billion Dollars; Taxpayers Have a Right to Know Where It Is!
    The estimated worth of the materials taken from Public Lands, what the actual fees charged should be, is explained in a current GAO Report to Legislators:
    “In summary, there were nearly 70 different types of leasable minerals extracted from federal lands and waters in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. . . For example, the volumes of the four most valuable of these minerals—oil, gas, natural gas liquids, and coal—are measured in barrels, million cubic feet (mcf), gallons, and tons, respectively. According to ONRR data, the total value of all leasable minerals extracted from federal and Indian land and sold in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 was $92.3 billion and $98.6 billion, respectively.”1
    Keep these ”total-value” figures in mind, explained further, and also keep in mind this is only one segment of many the Bureau of Land Management’s recklessly managed affairs, basically yet another form of Corporate Welfare, where the taxpayers receive nothing in returns. A scam that needs to cease immediately. In this case a $168.2 billion dollar scam, and this being the tip of the iceberg.
    Taxpayers and the general public, who use Public Lands for recreation, for example, pay many fees to do so, and at no discount. Yet large corporations and sheep and cattle ranchers pay next to nothing what so ever and recklessly damage our Public Lands while doing so.
    Theft cover-up or just incompetence?
    The Problem in this instance, the GAO Report goes further in actual fees received, the reality of Public Lands use fees not collected:
    “The resulting revenue to the federal government from mineral leasing activity on federal and Indian land in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 was $11.3 billion and $11.4 billion, respectively. Of this amount, oil, gas, and natural gas liquids accounted for the majority of the revenue—$10.1 billion in each fiscal year. The bulk of this revenue comes from royalties, which accounted for 92.8 percent of total revenue in 2011.” 1
    The fact is the subject brought up by Senator Tom Udall in a September 7, 2011 letter to Gene Dodaro, Comptroller General, Government Accountability Office. . . : 2
    “It is vitally important that the American taxpayer receives a fair return for the mineral resources extracted from federal land. Therefore, we are requesting that GAO undertake an examination of the value of minerals extracted and the amount of revenues collected in fiscal year 2010 for minerals obtained from federally managed lands and waters under the General Mining Act of 1872, and the other various mineral leasing acts. The examination should include the following:
    • What was the amount of minerals extracted from federal land and the Outer Continental
    Shelf and what was the estimated dollar value of these minerals?
    • How much did the federal government collect for these minerals, including royalties,
    rents, and bonuses, and how was this amount determined?”
    The unbeatable reality
    We can take the GAO Report math as accurate, and generating the difference in the reality of what was charged in Fees, we then find missing the amounts of $81.0 Billion dollars in 2010 and $87.2 Billion in 2011 (i.e. $168.2 Billion). This amount being legitimate fees that should have been charged to corporations but was not done — this is how some venues of corporate welfare works.
    We can also legitimately debate the fact of how much destruction and ruin was done by these corporations (i.e. BP for example or mining), and allowed by DOI and BLM agencies, who are responsible for oversight and proper management of our Public Lands.
    This type of conduct by government agency personnel has always been, and remains so today, questionable and often illegal. DOI and BLM remains a conduit for lobby groups and special interest groups only. Both of these agencies state they operate at a profit, but that remains simply misinformation, as usual.
    So the Public is currently being blamed for irresponsible fiscal spending and being asked to sacrifice more and more and daily. Yet we find this situation, as well as many more within our government.
    It becomes quite obvious where the budget cuts should be made. It is also quite obvious that the DOI and the BLM are too large, and have indeed become a monopoly not for the American Public, but for lobby groups and special interest groups, and at taxpayer expense, wildlife expense, and the ruination of our Public Land environments and ecosystems!
    This is a problem not just for Legislators, but for Americans. This problem must be resolved in order for America to continue as a Democracy, and the overall Public interest to not be ignored any longer. The reality is American’s Rights have been replaced by short term profits received by corporations and conducted by criminals within our government agencies. We as Americans are being led to believe, by these same government entities, that everything is okay — But it is NOT OKAY!


  12. So, Louie, wouldnt it be wonderful(sounds like a song!) if this actually found its way to someone with the capability of getting this looked into officially. Good for Mr. Grijalva (who I pray somehow becomes head of the DOI) and mr Udall. Suppose its possible that they could really shake things up?


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