The Nevada Supreme Court issued two short orders on May 21, 2015, denying Southern Nevada Water Authority’s and the State Engineer’s petitions for writs of mandamus.
This ruling constitutes a major victory for opponents of SNWA’s Pipeline Project, led by White Pine County and the Great Basin Water Network and local Native American tribes. By the same token, this ruling is a defeat for SNWA and the State Engineer, and their efforts to circumvent sound science.
The Supreme Court’s orders follow its February order dismissing SNWA’s and the SE’s original appeals. Now SNWA and the State Engineer are in the position of having to comply with the Judge Estes’s order and the requirement to demonstrate that SNWA’s proposed groundwater mining and export operation will be sustainable and will not cause impermissible impacts on the environment and existing water rights holders, such as ranchers, farmers and local business people.
“These are standards that SNWA and the State Engineer themselves have repeatedly conceded, on the record, they cannot meet because the science does not support such conclusions,” said GBWN’s attorney, Simeon Herskovits of Advocates for Community and Environment.
“The Nevada Supreme Court’s rejection of SNWA’s and the State Engineer’s appeals, combined with Judge Estes’s ruling in district court, represents a victory for the people and environment of the Great Basin in Nevada and Utah including ranchers and farmers who are threatened with elimination by SNWA’s ill-considered, massive water grab,” said GBWN president Abby Johnson.
“This is one more nail in the coffin for SNWA’s pipeline and one more indication that protecting Snake Valley groundwater is the right thing to do and will succeed in the end,” said Steve Erickson of GBWN in Salt Lake City.
“We hope SNWA and the State Engineer will reconsider their prior efforts to ramrod this unsustainable and ultimately devastating groundwater mining project on ratepayers and taxpayers,” said Howard Watts III, communications specialist for GBWN.
This ruling does not necessarily represent the end of the case. SNWA and the State Engineer may well decide together to rush a remand proceeding and try again with more bogus pseudo-science. But they should be held accountable for having boxed themselves in by making repeated representations to both the Nevada District Court and Supreme Court that they cannot satisfy the standards Judge Estes held they must satisfy.
The May and February Nevada Supreme Court rulings are posted on greatbasinwaternetwork.org.
SUBMITTED BY GREAT BASIN WATER NETWORK.