The Saga of Snake Valley. Facts Drainage Basin – 244,000 sq mi Average Annual Flow – 16.5 maf The Colorado River ranks only 6 th in total volume of flow Provides M&I Water to 24 million people in the US Provides irrigation water to over 2 million acres in the US Total Storage – 60 maf
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Based on Current Hydrology
(in million acre-feet per year [MAF])
Arizona - 0.05
Arizona - 2.8
Utah - 1.369
Nevada - 0.3
Colorado - 3.079
LB - 7.5 3
UB - 6.0 1
California - 4.4
Wyoming - 0.833
New Mexico - 0.669
Mexico - 1.5 2
TOTAL - 15.0 MAFY
Utah's Colorado River Allocation 1.369 MAFCurrent Use 1.0 MAF UNUSED ALLOCATION.369 MAFFuture use Navajo Nation 81 KAF Ute Tribe Reserve Water (compact) 105 KAF New Ag Uses 25 KAF New M&I Uses 5 KAF Lake Powell Pipeline 86 KAF Total 302 KAF* Balance* * 67 KAF* ADDITIONAL PENDING APPLICATIONS: 400,000+ KAF
1989 1.369 MAF
40% 1.369 MAF
(b) Rights-of-Way.—(1) In general.—Notwithstanding sections 202 and 503 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1711, 1763), and subject to valid and existing rights, the Secretary shall grant to the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Lincoln County Water District nonexclusive rights-of-way [2,640 feet wide] to Federal land in Lincoln County and Clark County, Nevada, for any roads, wells, well fields, pipes, pipelines, pump stations, storage facilities, or other facilities and systems that are necessary for the construction and operation of a water conveyance system.
(d) State Water Law.—Nothing in this title shall—
(3) Agreement.—Prior to any transbasin diversion from ground-water basins located within both the State of Nevada and the State of Utah, the State of Nevada and the State of Utah shall reach an agreement regarding the division of water resources of those interstate ground-water flow system(s) from which water will be diverted and used by the project. The agreement shall allow for the maximum sustainable beneficial use of the water resources and protect existing water rights.
What happens if Utah rejects an agreement?
1. A potential State to State Supreme Court action
2. Question as to if and when Supreme Court would accept a filing
3. Apportionment of water rights only
4. Political Backlash from Colorado River States.
5. No interbasin transfer of water from Snake Valley
6. Likely repeal of “Agreement Language”
Category 1-Allocated 12,000 ac/ft 55,000 ac/ft
Category 2-Unallocated 35,000 ac/ft 6,000 ac/ft
Category 3-Reserved 19,000 ac/ft 5,000 ac/ft
Total 66,000 ac/ft 66,000 ac/ft
Nevada agrees to hold SNWA Snake Valley water applications in abeyance until September 2019. Additional hydrologic and biologic data may be gathered before any decisions are made.
States agree to re-consult anytime in the future to redetermine available ground-water supply. If withdrawals exceed supply, State Engineers must act to reduce withdrawals by priority.
Terms of this agreement become a condition of any water application approval made by Nevada State Engineer.
LIMITS use of Snake Valley water resources 61,000 af (Utah) to 47,000 af (Nevada).
POSTPONES SNWA water right applications before the Nevada State Engineer until 2019.
DEFINES environmental protocol to protect air quality and sensitive species.
INCLUDES environmental protections in Utah as a condition of any SNWA water right granted by the Nevada State Engineer.
PROVIDES a simplified mitigation process for any Utah water user impacted by SNWA.
DOES NOT sell or give water to Las Vegas or authorize any Nevada pumping or pipeline in Utah.
Great Basin Water Network et. al. sue Nevada State Engineer. Among other things, GBWN claim State Engineer ignored NRS 533.37(2) which requires State Engineer to take action on applications within one year after the close of protest period.
Suit is dismissed in district court and appealed to Nevada Supreme Court
…”we conclude that the State Engineer violated his statutory duty by failing to take action within one year after the final protest date. Thus, we reverse the order of the district court and remand for a determination of whether SNWA must file new groundwater appropriation applications or whether the State Engineer must re-notice SNWA’s 1989 applications and reopen the period during which appellants may file protests.”
Pressure is applied to Nevada Governor and Legislature to “fix” the Supreme Court Decision in a special session
They pass intent language urging the Nevada State Engineer to, “Hold hearings on potential resolutions of the issues presented by the Great Basin Water Network decision…to take all appropriate steps to implement recommendations arising out of such hearings which may include but not be limited to: “convene a special session” or drafting a bill for the 2011 Legislative Session.
That’s where we are today.