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Tribes charter “Groundwater Express” to protest Las Vegas water rights



On Thursday morning, dozens of tribal members and leaders will get on a bus headed to the State Legislature Building in Carson City to oppose the granting of additional water rights to Las Vegas. The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute (CTGR) have joined together with other tribes in the region (Ely Shoshone, Duckwater Shoshone, and Paiute Tribe of Utah) to protest the Southern Nevada Water Authorities (SNWA) water rights application to the Nevada State Engineer. The SNWA water rights hearing began on September 26th and will continue through November 18th. The public has only one day to participate in the hearing. On October 7th, individuals will be allowed three minutes to make a statement. Video feeds allowing the public to comment from remote locations will be setup in Las Vegas, Ely, and Caliente.

“Native People in the Great Basin understand the importance of water better than anyone. We don’t know if anyone in Carson City will listen, but we will go and speak. Water is life. Without water, our culture will perish, and sink back into the earth where it came from,” says Councilman and Tribal Administrator, Ed Naranjo.

A press conference and the “Protect Great Basin Water Rally” will be held in front of the “Groundwater Express” bus on the south side of the Legislature Building, starting around noon on October 7 in Carson City. Goshute spokespeople will express cultural, spiritual and environmental concerns about the pipeline.

Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is proposing to build a pipeline to Las Vegas to pump groundwater (up to 176,655 acre-feet per year) from several valleys in central-eastern Nevada. Two permitting processes are underway, 1) the BLM is considering disturbing thousands of acres of public land by trenching, building roads, power lines, and the burying 7 foot diameter pipe. They describe the likely cumulative impacts from the water table drawdowns to include impacts on vegetation and wildlife, fugitive dust, ground subsidence, and more, and 2) the Nevada State Engineer is considering how much water to permit SNWA to pump.

“I don’t want to see our water taken away. We need to look out for our children, and let their voices be heard. The Nevada State Engineer is going to be surprised how many people from tribes show up to express their opposition to this pipeline,” says Soraya Henriod, Goshute Tribal Member and resident of Ibapah, UT.

The CTGR have resided and stewarded the landscapes in the proposed pumping region for thousands of years by understanding the ecology of this harsh, dry landscape. The Goshute reside on a 109,000-acre reservation at the base of the Deep Creek Mountains[1] Historically, they occupied millions of acres of the Great Salt Lake watershed, a region where they retain treaty rights and still carry out hunting, gathering, ceremonial, and spiritual activities.

“The Goshute hold many springs, meadows, and wetland areas, including the plants and animals found within them, as central to our cultural, spiritual and economic way of life. We have not been asked for much input, but it is important that people know that we exist as people and are prepared to fight for our survival,” says Goshute EPA Director, Clell Pete.

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