Judge slashes Southern Nevada Water Authority

SNWA loses right to suck 6- billlion gallons of water a year from under Nevada desert valleys-

This is a blockbuster decision for the high desert of Nevada and western Utah and against the same old pattern of urban sprawl for Las Vegas. The state supreme court could yet rule for SNWA. It’s a big loss for Harry Reid and Pat Mulroy; and, of course, the developers.

PIPELINE PLANS: Judge kills water ruling. Permission for agency to tap three rural valleys rejected. By Henry Brean. Las Vegas Review Journal.

“Judge Norman Robison ruled that State Engineer Tracy Taylor ‘abused his discretion’ and ‘acted arbitrarily, capriciously and oppressively’ when he cleared the authority to pump more than 6 billion gallons of groundwater a year from Cave, Delamar and Dry Lake valleys.”

Commentary-

Ooops! Judge: No SNWA Pumping From Cave, Delamar, and Dry Lake Valleys. WaterWired.
Las Vegas loses water rights to key valleys. Chance of Rain

This decision and its importance was a little slow to dawn on the major newspapers. The Las Vegas Review Journal got it right from the start, however. The Las Vegas Sun, “sin city’s” “liberal newspaper” doesn’t seem to have covered it yet.
New 10/29. Nevada ruling could burst Las Vegas pumping plan. Snake Valley » Judge blisters official’s decision favoring Vegas. By Patty Henetz. Salt Lake Tribune. [this] “could doom Las Vegas’s plan to build a 300-mile, $3.5 billion pipeline from Snake Valley, which lies mainly in Utah, to the desert megalopolis.
Vegas water agency vows fight for groundwater plan. The Associated Press

Some photos ↓

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Western dust storms are increasing

Livestock, off-road vehicles, oil and gas road development are major culprits-

The Western United States is naturally dusty, right?

With the exception of some dry lake beds and parts of very hot deserts this is not true.

Soil is held in place from the wind by vegetation and rock. Anything that reduces the ground cover to dirt will result in it blowing away in the wind. Even deserts where there appear to be wide barren spaces between plants are not naturally bare. Desert soil is naturally covered by a microbiotic crust. This holds the dirt down except in the strongest winds. Unfortunately, hooves and wheels destroy this crust.

Microbiotic crust. Great Basin

Microbiotic crust. Great Basin. Copyright Ralph Maughan

I took the photo above in early April near Pocatello, Idaho, along an old road bed. The road had been closed for 3 years and the area had never been grazed. The road used to produce big clouds of dust. Now that it has largely filled in, it doesn’t.

Story in the Washington Post. Dust Storms Escalate, Prompting Environmental Fears. Increase in Dirt Affects Ecosystems In Western States. By Juliet Eilperin Washington Post Staff Writer