Las Vegas Pipeline’s end brings relief to eastern #Nevada — for now — The Las Vegas Review-Journal

“Swamp Cedars” (Juniperus scopulorum) and associated pond, wetland and meadow in Spring Valley, White Pine County, Nevada. Photograph by Dennis Ghiglieri from

Click the link to read the article on the Las Vegas Review-Journal website (Colton Lochhead). Here’s an excerpt:

A proposal to pump groundwater from rural Nevada to Las Vegas is dead, bringing relief to a coalition of odd bedfellows who fought it for more than 30 years. But concerns linger that the pipeline may one day return.

For more than 30 years, Southern Nevada water officials had a simple plan to fuel the valley’s explosive growth: pump groundwater from rural valleys in eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. The water would make a 300-mile trip from arid basins in rural Nevada through a pipeline to Las Vegas. But for three decades, a group of odd bedfellows that included rural ranchers, environmentalists, Native American tribes and even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fought the project at every turn — before a judge finally dealt it a fatal blow in March 2020.

To its opponents, the pipeline was a looming threat that would have devastated ranching communities, high desert ecosystems, Native American sacred sites and more. But for Southern Nevada, the pipeline was a key backup plan should Lake Mead ever start to dry up — something once talked about as only a remote possibility decades down the line, but which now stands as a reality staring the Southwest square in the face. Conditions along the Colorado River have deteriorated far more rapidly than predicted, with eroding hydrology, climate change and chronic overuse all taking a toll during a two-decades-long drought…

The outlook was clear to [Pat] Mulroy in the early days of the drought, though. The water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell started what would be their two-decades long fall in the early 2000s, and Mulroy knew that climate change would progressively worsen that decline as the years went on. The authority at one point applied for the rights to pump as much as 180,000 acre-feet of water per year from those valleys to Las Vegas — what would have been a significant addition to Nevada’s annual 300,000 acre-foot allocation from the Colorado River. Mulroy said the project to pump billions of gallons of water from the eastern edge of the state to its most populated urban hub was planned “for conditions like they exist today.”

Map of Nevada’s major rivers and streams via

Leave a Reply