Officials ‘Screw Nevada With Abandonment’

By Hank Vogler
Common sense is an uncommon commodity. We many times refuse to look at the big picture for personal reasons. If it is not our ox that is being gored, we try to look beyond the problem, hoping it will go away and we won’t need to deal with it. My Indian grandmother would say, “A fox always hunts his own hole first.”
The city versus rural water issue is a perfect example. When Southern Nevada Water Authority came to town, the folks outside of Spring Valley and Snake Valley in White Pine County looked the other way, let alone the folks in other rural counties. Not my issue, nothing to see.
Besides, SNWA, an acronym for “Screw Nevada With Abandonment,” was paying intergenerational wealth for ranches so ranch owners were being well compensated. The same thing was done to Owens Valley out of Bishop, Calif. Mining the water out of eastern Nevada and western Utah is Owens Valley on steroids. It will go down with the great environmental holocausts of modern man.
Las Vegas needs water for the city to continue to grow. Two families on the average can get by on one acre-foot of water per year. The state engineer allowed SNWA to mine 80,000 acre-feet of water a year.
The problem here is they came to Spring Valley in 1989. The population of Vegas has far exceeded that adjudication. In other words, with a five-year turnaround on the construction of the pipeline and the accelerating growth in Vegas, the day you have the ribbon cutting, the pipeline will be over-adjudicated tenfold!
Once that pipeline is finished and the state realizes it spent $20 billion on a dry hole, it will not have the appetite to go to de-salinization, which would cost a quarter as much as the pipeline, so it will then be forced to spiderweb all the rural valleys of Nevada for more water. The only water not going to Vegas would need to go to the folks in Reno, as they are out of water even more than Las Vegas.
The potential of the Rye Patch Dam in Lovelock becoming a water treatment plant for Reno, Carson City and Fernley is very real, so Las Vegas and Reno will leave the rest of the state a sand dune!
It was an ill-conceived plan to begin with. I believe the idea was that no federal controlling authority could be exerted as it was Great Basin water and no interstate involvement could be shown for oversight beyond the Nevada legislators’ appeal to the overlords. The deep thinkers were assured that Las Vegas — Clark County interests with all the population there — would control the issue. You can’t blame the people with the contract to put together a plan to drill well fields and come up with a hydrological plan and a pipeline right-of-way. They would all be well-paid advocates for the pipeline. Arrogance breeds hubris.
Even though we people who live on the other side of nowhere are considered simple rubes, we can actually surmise water issues as we live every day on the edge of wise use of a scarce resource—water. My fields are lined with ditches that have not run water in the 35 years I have been here. There are countless reservoirs and springs that have gone dry prior to SNWA filings. The turd in the punch bowl is years of fire control on pinion and juniper forests (PJ) that have dried up the aquifers. Once PJ reaches 50 percent canopy, no more water enters the aquifer. Studies years ago identified, in White Pine County alone, 50,000 acres of PJ could be harvested annually and you would never run out of trees. Oops! The mitigation of the mining of the water just went up another 10-or-more billion dollars. The only way for Vegas to get more water from the rurals is to address the PJ encroachment. The aquifers are shallow. There is a finite amount of water. Replenishing that aquifer means opening up the PJ canopy.
In typical big-city arrogance, the water company—with a cadre of lawyers advocating for the cause and managers vested in their advocacy dependent on the mother tit of SNWA—has run roughshod over the local people. The list of condescension and patronization incidents is longer than a polygamist’s clothesline. I doubt that genie can ever be put back in the bottle.
In all fairness, my mother would encourage us to say something nice about people; okay, SNWA’s ranch expert does have a cowboy hat.
However, if what he knows about ranching was converted into gasoline it would not get a Honda 90 motorcycle halfway around a dime. The overlord doesn’t know whether Christ was crucified or shot in a crap game and the ranch manager has angered neighbors and employees and the general community so many times that “jackbooted thug” comes to mind.
How can rural Nevada survive this strip-mining? This project, at this point, is only to save face for the people who first conceived this destructive idea. The only way is in the arena of public opinion. We must break through the ceiling of the news blackout in the news media of southern Nevada. We must make the ratepayers aware that if this environmental nightmare is not stopped, 15-year-old scotch will be cheaper than water in Vegas.
I know whose ox is being gored. I am upstream from SNWA and every morning I realize whose family’s future is darker than the inside of a cow. Hang and Rattle.
* * * * *
Hank Vogler runs Needmore Sheep Company in eastern Nevada. For more on SNWA, go to Rangefinder at and search for Tim Findley’s “To Move AnOcean” in Fall 2005. Reprinted from RANGE, Fall 2019, with permission.

2 Attachments

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments