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Public Comment Needed on SNWA Snake Valley Pipeline to Vegas!

by Stop Water Theft by Developers! Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Another chance for members of the public to comment to the BLM and share their views on the proposed SNWA pipeline from Snake and Spring Valley aquifers to the Las Vegas region. Please request the BLM take the NO ACTION alternative and deny the pipeline access across public lands held by the BLM. We do not need any more aquifers being overdrafted for extra golf courses and suburban sprawl development (ie., Coyote Springs from Harvey Whittemore), we need flowing springs and seeps for our ecosystems!


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is holding public meetings to provide the public opportunities to comment on the Clark, Lincoln and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development and Utility Right-of-Way Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The draft document analyzes a Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) proposal for a system of regional water facilities and pipelines to transport water to the Las Vegas Valley. The BLM’s action is to either grant or deny the request for rights-of-way across public land. Nine public meetings will be held during a 90-day comment period which ends September 9, 2011.

Before you go: Download the GBWN's "Water Grab EIS Guide" from the following web address:



click on the "Publications" link at the top of the page and download the Guide by clicking on the Guide's "download report" link.

· Reno, Nev., Aug. 18 at 3 p.m., Sparks High School Large Gym, 820 15th Street

The project, as proposed by the SNWA, would provide for the development of the first phase (main conveyance pipeline and associated facilities) of a multi-year project which would eventually deliver groundwater from the Spring, Snake, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar hydrographic basins to the Las Vegas area. Although water rights, pumping rates, volume of water proposed for transport to the Las Vegas Valley, and the point of use of water proposed for transport across public land is outside the jurisdiction of the BLM, these issues are included in the EIS. Water rights and pumping rates are under the purview of the Nevada State Engineer. Water distribution and use associated with the importation of water in the Las Vegas Valley are addressed by local and regional planning agencies in accordance with Nevada Revised Statutes.

The draft EIS addresses the construction and operation of a system of regional water facilities which include 306 miles of a buried water pipeline; 323 miles of 230 kilovolt (kV), 69 kV and 25 kV overhead power lines; seven electrical substations; three pressure reducing facilities; five pumping stations; six regulating tanks; a 40 million-gallon-per-day buried storage reservoir; and a 165 million-gallon-per-day water treatment facility.

Whenever possible, the proposed project facilities would be constructed within utility corridors established by the Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act of 2004 and the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1998. An approved right-of-way is contingent on compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. Establishment of the utility corridors has no bearing on water rights.

Water rights applications in Snake, Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar valleys are pending with the Nevada State Engineer. The Nevada State Engineer is solely responsible for the adjudication and permitting process to allow the development of those waters. This EIS does not address the permitting or authorization of water rights.

The Notice of Availability of the draft EIS was announced in the June 10, 2011 Federal Register. Copies of the document are available from the BLM Nevada State Office, 775-861-6681 or nvgwprojects [at] blm.gov. An electronic version of the document is available at


Comments on the draft EIS may be mailed: Penny Woods, BLM Project Manager, PO Box 12000, Reno, NV 89520, faxed: 775-861-6689, or emailed:

nvgwprojects [at] blm.gov

NO ACTION on SNWA pipeline!

BLM should deny SNWA pipeline passage through BLM public land!!



The sad part is the urban utility ratepayers are being coerced by the SNWA into supporting the pipeline, though the main beneficiary would be suburban sprawl developer Harvey Whittemore, the owner of Coyote Springs subdivision, that just happens to be located along the SNWA pipeline's route. Once the Snake and Spring Valley aquifers are depleted, where will Whittemore and SNWA's General Pat Mulroy look next for water??

background on Whittemore and SNWA deals;

"The slumping housing market isn't going to keep Nevada super-lobbyist Harvey Whittemore from his dream of building tens of thousands of homes in Coyote Springs Valley, one of the driest spots in the state.

The story of how Whittemore was able to move forward with his plan is a lesson in how things sometimes work in Nevada for those who have connections. Whittemore's plan might not be an impossible dream, but it sure looks like an improbable one.

Whittemore is widely regarded as smart, hard-working, and likeable. He can smooth talk or twist arms, whatever it takes to get things done. When it comes to his plans for Coyote Springs, also known as Harveyville, he gets by with a little help from his friends.

"I didn't create the community. I didn't sell the land to the developer. It happened. Our problem is we have to deal with it," said General Manager Pat Mulroy, Southern Nevada Water Authority.

When water authority boss Pat Mulroy says she had little to do with the plans for a boomtown in Coyote Springs, she's being a bit too modest. Without her help -- and that of many other public officials -- Harvey Whittemore's grandiose vision could never have moved forward.

Whittemore is widely regarded as the most effective lobbyists in Nevada history, a man who gets what he wants. Coyote Springs could be exhibit A. In 1996, Whittemore's company bought 42,000 acres in Coyote Springs. His vision was to build up to 150,000 homes, along with 10 golf courses and a casino or two, even though the valley is 60 miles from Las Vegas and is home to endangered species and sensitive lands and has scarce water resources.

"There was a vision that a large piece of public, I mean private property, would make a phenomenal development," Mike Hillerby, Coyote Springs Development. The slip of the tongue by Coyote Springs executive Mike Hillerby is understandable since the land in question once belonged to the public.

In the 1980's, the BLM land was designated as a potential site for the MX Missile project. When that was cancelled, a rocket company named Aerojet acquired the acreage in a swap for Florida swampland. Documents show Aerojet was specifically not to use the land for development beyond what was needed to test rockets. Somehow, that stipulation vanished by the time Whittemore bought the property. But where did the idea originate?

"I can't comment on the genesis. I don't know the genesis," Hillerby said.

The idea may have come from Richard Bunker, former Clark County manager, longtime partner with Whittemore and fellow gaming lobbyist. Bunker reportedly went to Clark County as an agent for Aerojet to propose the county acquire the land. When the county said no, Whittemore entered the picture. He bought 42,000 acres for $23 million dollars but quickly sold part of his water rights to the SNWA, headed by Pat Mulroy for $25 million. When Richard Bunker was Clark County manager, Mulroy was his assistant. She regards him as her mentor. She defends the Whittemore deal as good for both parties, though it meant Whittemore essentially got the land for free, plus $2 million.

SNWA has helped in other ways too. After federal agencies said water pumping the Coyote Springs would likely dry up nearby warms springs and kill endangered fish, SNWA bought the springs for $69 million and agreed to watch over the fish. SNWA's proposed water pipeline to rural Nevada will come in handy as well since it means Whittemore can buy up remote ranches for their water, then use the public pipeline to carry the water to his development.

Nevada rancher Hand Vogler points out the coincidences.

"Do you think it's divine providence that Harvey Whittemore buys a ranch right in line where the pipeline is gonna go? Do you think it's some sort of accident when you pull into Coyote Springs from Highway 93, there are signs that say - Warning: critical desert tortoise habitat, yet there is enough equipment to make Cashman cats look like a parking lot?

The Clark County Commission, Lincoln County Commission, state legislature, and Nevada congressional delegation have all pitched in with favors for the project. Nevada Senator Harry Reid has helped lead the way and all of those public entities have praised the project over and over. "

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Public comment in Sparks draws diverse crowd of opposition Native Americans, ranchers, environmentalists Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 at 10:02 AM
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