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For Immediate Release, September 13, 2012

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

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Springsnails Threatened by Las Vegas Water Grab

LAS VEGAS— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for failing to protect four springsnail species under the Endangered Species Act. The snails are threatened by a proposed 306-mile pipeline that would carry up to 57 billion gallons of groundwater annually from Nevada’s Great Basin to Las Vegas. The plan could cause the water table in rural Nevada to drop more than 200 feet, drying up the springs that support the snails and countless other species.

“Scientists say this scheme to feed urban sprawl in Las Vegas could drive these springsnails to extinction,” said Rob Mrowka, a Center ecologist. “The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s water grab threatens hundreds of species of native wildlife, and important water supplies for rural residents and future generations.”

In 2010 the Center and allies petitioned for protection for the Lake Valley springsnail, hardy springsnail, flag springsnail and bifid duct springsnail under the Endangered Species Act. The Service determined that the springsnails “may warrant” protection as endangered species but has failed to make a final determination within 12 months, as required.

Springsnails improve water quality by consuming decaying matter and algae and are an important food source for fish, birds and amphibians. Because the snails depend on consistent groundwater flow, any reduction in flow has an immediate impact on their survival.

“Endangered Species Act protection is the only hope for saving these springsnails, which are a unique part of Nevada’s natural heritage,” said Mrowka. “Saving them would also save habitat for many other plants and animals in the Great Basin.”

The final “environmental impact statement” for the pipeline found that up to 305 springs, 112 miles of streams, 8,000 acres of wetlands and 191,506 acres of shrubland wildlife habitat are threatened by the proposal. Pumping could result in a drop in the land surface of more than five feet over 525 square miles, as well as the generation of 34,742 tons of windblown dust per year due to the death of vegetation. The pipeline threatens five national wildlife refuges, two national parks, four state wildlife areas and seven state parks. It is expected to have irreversible effects on agriculture, ranching and rural economies in Nevada and Utah.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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