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For Immediate Release, April 22, 2010

Contact: Rob Mrowka, (702) 249-5821 or

Protection for Nevada Species Sought Through Protest of Water-rights Applications

LAS VEGAS— The Center for Biological Diversity this month submitted 130 protests of water-rights applications filed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Lincoln County Water District, and the Virgin River Water District that pose a threat to numerous rare and sensitive species in Nevada. The water-rights applications were filed in eastern Nevada and, if approved, would allow the pumping of groundwater for mostly municipal uses away from the area of the pumping.

“The biggest threat to the diversity and abundance of Nevada native wildlife species, and the livelihood of rural communities in the affected areas, is the export of non-renewable ancient groundwater to fuel the unsustainable growth of far-away cities such as Las Vegas and Mesquite, and if built, Coyote Springs”, said Rob Mrowka, ecologist with the Center. “To speak out in defense of the species and rural communities, the Center has filed 130 protests of the water-rights applications in White Pine, Lincoln, Nye, and Clark counties.”

The filing of the applications by the agencies was a result of a recent decision by the Nevada Supreme Court, which found that the state had violated its own laws when approving water-rights applications filed more than a decade ago. After that decision, the water agencies filed numerous new applications seeking additional water rights to compensate for the legal uncertainty surrounding the previous applications.  .

“Due process under the law and fair play won out over speculators, developers, and the water agencies that support them when the Nevada Supreme Court threw out the earlier applications,” Mrowka said. “But unfortunately, Nevada’s water agencies are still seeking to claim water from parts of the state that simply cannot support such water-intensive uses.”

The Center filed protests over those applications that are most likely to affect Nevada’s rare spring and riparian areas, which are home to some of the state’s most imperiled species. Some of the species that would be severely impacted if the water rights are granted include the greater sage grouse; the Bonneville cutthroat trout; the Moapa dace and other desert fish; the southwestern willow flycatcher; and many species of rare bats, plants, and springsnails. Also impacted would be the rural lifestyle and livelihoods of communities such as Baker, Hiko, and Lund, Nevada; and Garrison, Gandy, and Eskdale, Utah.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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