Voices from the River: Water is life

By Don Duff

An effort to protect fragile aquatic wetland ecosystems and the wildlife that uses them has been under way in northeast Nevada for 15 years. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is proposing a 300-mile pipeline, 7-feet in diameter, to move pumped groundwater from the Snake Valley near Baker on the Nevada/Utah border and in the appropriately named Spring Valley to the West.

The water would end up in Las Vegas to parch the thirst of a burgeoning population leaving a series of connected, and already depleted, groundwater aquifers at serious risk.

Not only would fish and wildlife be placed in jeopardy by the proposed pipeline, but so would people who live in the desert communities and depend on the miniscule amount of water currently available. Great Basin National Park is within the potentially impacted area.

Moving water from one part of desert country to another part of desert country in the driest state in the nation is not the answer to solving population issues.

I have been involved in an effort by the Great Basin Water Network to protect the aquifers from the start. There is a new video documentary explaining our efforts to keep the water where it has been for centuries. The collaboration also includes ranchers, farmers, tribal members and the communities that would be affected by the depleted aquifers.

It may seem odd that Trout Unlimited should be concerned about water issues in the desert. Many people are surprised to learn about the native Bonneville cutthroat trout that can be found in our area. We are working to protect the wetlands and streams for the cutthroat and other native species like the Least chub and spotted frog.

The Great Basin Chapter of Trout Unlimited has been on the Coalition since the beginning and is continuing to provide valuable fisheries information to the group.

Visit the Great Basin Water Network for details about the project and updates.

Don Duff is a former fisheries biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management. He is president of the Great Basin Chapter of Trout Unlimited.





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