A big bucket water activists deployed in front of the Legislature in 2019. (Photo: Great Basin Water Network twitter).
Opponents of the great Las Vegas rural “water grab” are celebrating the legislative death of Assembly Bill 30, a measure they say would have provided fertile ground for a power play by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), the agency suing for the right to take water from rural Nevada.
The bill would have allowed the State Engineer to resort to a so-called 3M plan — Mitigation, Management and Monitoring — in cases where applications for water rights fail to avoid conflicts to the State Engineer’s satisfaction.
“We are interested in 3M plans being used to protect the environment, but the pipeline is non-negotiable,” Patrick Donnelly of the Center for Biological Diversity told the Current. “It’s an existential threat to Nevada’s water, wildlife and culture. And we’ll never compromise on that.”
SNWA wants to import some 58 billion gallons of water a year from Eastern Nevada to Las Vegas.
“We have been clear and the courts have been very clear. The pipeline doesn’t comply with state law. Water rights applications can’t impact senior holders or the public interest, which is the environment. The pipeline would indisputably do so,” Donnelly said.
The measure also posed a potential threat to Shoshone spiritual rites, according to one tribal leader.
AB 30 passed 31-9 in the Assembly but died in the corresponding Senate committee.
“This bill has been through a lot of iterations and at various times it was acceptable to various stakeholders. The politics was ever-shifting on this bill. But the final version didn’t make anyone very happy,” Donnelly said.
“We think it’s likely the stakeholders agree on 90 to 95 percent of the issues and there are sticking points on the remainder,” Donnely said, adding consensus seemed unlikely in the waning days of the session. “We look forward to working out our differences with all the stakeholders in the interim.”
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