Goshute Tribe joins effort to head off Vegas water grab
February 23, 2014
Yet another challenger has filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s attempt to pipe eastern Nevada water hundreds of miles south to Las Vegas.
The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation joined the Great Basin Water Network’s recent lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Interior last week. The lawsuit challenges BLM’s decision to grant a right-of-way for a water pipeline that would destroy irreplaceable cultural and natural resources.
“We cannot look the other way when the future of our people and homelands are in the hands of those who have their priorities mixed up,” said Tribal Chairperson Madeline Greymountain.
The lawsuit challenges BLM’s December 2012 Record of Decision authorizing the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s massive Groundwater Development Project and pipeline right-of-way (ROW). SNWA intends to construct and operate a vast pipeline system to transport precious groundwater from the ancestral lands of Goshute and Shoshone people in central-eastern Nevada to the Las Vegas Valley.
The Plaintiffs, which include a broad coalition of tribes, ranchers, farmers and environmentalists, claim that the pipeline would cause serious, irreparable harm to the environment, and that the current landscape would disappear forever.
“Without any notification or government-to-government consultation, federal agencies signed away our Tribal rights and resources by entering Stipulated Agreements with SNWA,” Greymountain said. “In fact, they withdrew Tribal protests in the Nevada State Engineer’s proceeding without the Tribe’s consent. To add insult to injury, the federal agencies did not bother showing up at the 6-week trial before the State Engineer.”
“Yet again, the Tribes were left to do the job of the federal agencies,” Greymountain said.
The Plaintiffs also claim that SNWA’s pipeline would harm areas of particular cultural, religious, and ceremonial importance to the Tribe.
Simeon Herskovits and Iris Thornton, attorneys for the Great Basin Water Network, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada, on Feb. 12.