Standing tall

Posted on | August 17, 2009 | 3 Comments


Dean Baker stood for this 2007 Las Vegas Sun portrait in the water of Big Springs, Snake Valley, Nevada, part of the Great Basin Carbonate Aquifer system targeted by Las Vegas. For 20 years, Baker has been the face of the opposition to the Las Vegas pipeline project, both for rural Nevada, where he lives, and the neighboring West Desert of central Utah, where he was born and raised. In 2007, at the behest of his childhood neighbors in Utah, Baker joined an Utahan negotiating team tasked by Congress to agree how much water, if any, Utah would consent to Nevada removing from Snake Valley, a basin shared by both states. Patricia Mulroy, Las Vegas water manager and founder of the nearly 300-mile-long pipeline project, decried Baker's appointment as political brinksmanship. However, Utah Director of Natural Resources Mike Styler said at the time of Baker, "He's a courageous person ... He's got to be able to face his neighbors with an agreement that his neighbors may not like." Last week, after a 50/50 split of unallocated water from the valley was announced, the very people who had Baker appointed to the negotiating committee began demanding release of the negotiating meeting records. Baker's response: "I am for the settlement and against the pipeline." He believes that the draft contains monitoring protections and time delays that will produce studies that will convince authorities not to pump in Snake Valley. He will be appearing in Las Vegas on Thursday August 20th to argue his case before the Southern Nevada Water Authority. It will be voting that day on whether or not to pursue the $3.5bn pipeline. See after the jump for the draft agreement, meeting times, places and link to the feed for the Las Vegas vote. Photo: Sam Morris

A draft agreement reached last week by Utah and Nevada over water sharing proposed for the Las Vegas pipeline will be presented for public hearings, which start today in Baker Nevada. Dates, times, places as follow:

    • August 17th, 1pm, Baker, NV, Baker School Auditorium
    • August 17th, 7pm, Delta, UT, Millar County Fair Building, 81 Manzanita Avenue
    • August 18th, 10am, Salt Lake City, UT, Department of Environmental Quality Building 2, 168 North 1950 Street
    • August 20th, 9am, Las Vegas, NV, Southern Nevada Water Authority Board Meeting, Molaksy Corporate Center Suite 700, 100 City Parkway

There is more on the agenda at the August 20th meeting in Las Vegas. Here, Patricia Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, has demanded that her board give an up or down vote on the project. To watch it live online starting at 9am, click here.


3 Responses to “Standing tall”

    August 18th, 2009 @ 9:13 am

    I can not state I read every word in the “draft” proposed by Utah/SNWA on their allocation of Snake Valley water. I did however peruse it and found I was yet again drawn to that portion where these entities choose definition of terms. The following terms stand out for me:

     Adverse Impact to an Existing Permitted Use” or “Adverse Impact
     Beneficial Use
     Consumptive Use
     “Existing Permitted Uses” means Consumptive Use

    As I read and reread these definitions and not being an attorney I found myself musing on how in their (lawyers) hands these definitions are structured so as to enable them to argue and debate forever in whatever arena necessary to allow this one water issue to remain unresolved.

    Moreover being born and raised in Las Vegas, I find it particularly amusing when they write …”The States have a long history of resolving issues of concern to each state’s
    citizens in a cooperative and mutually beneficial manner” … OK, I confess, that their assessment any my own are quite different. But, I suppose in the legalistic realm apart from reality, such BS is not only permitted but part of the game.

    This “draft” and the theater surrounding it makes for good press on both sides of the line while providing the background and backdrop for the real behind the scene politicking to occur.

    Moreover I can not help but feel this rather insignificant “water” debate is but the eye of the pending water storm facing not only all those along the Colorado River system, but equally with perhaps even greater immediate consequences those dependent upon the transfer of water from Northern California to the agricultural heart land of Central California and the teeming millions in Southern California.

    The time is here for all of us to choose to assess – water – through a different paradigm. It is our choice as to what that paradigm is.

    Respectfully submitted,

  2. admin
    August 18th, 2009 @ 10:31 am

    Dear Paul (if I may),

    I agree with you, other than saying this water debate is insignificant. Its impacts will be felt from Salt Lake City to Death Valley. Utah resistance might (a big might) have stopped the project and turned Las Vegas’s need for water back towards California, where there are vast amounts of water going to Mojave farming, small fraction of which might be found for Southern Nevada. But that would be too logical. Thanks for writing.

  3. Las Vegas loses water rights to key valleys | Chance of Rain
    October 30th, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

    […] that they only heard of their victory by chance. One of their members, White Pine County rancher Dean Baker, was speaking yesterday to an Utahan official, who happened to have a copy of the […]

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