Press Release Aug 3, 2012

National Park Groups Warn of Water Pipeline's Threats to Health, Habitat, and Heritage

Bureau of Land Management's Final Environmental Impact Statement for Nevada Water Pipeline Released Today

Las Vegas, NV – The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees expressed concern today over the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final environmental impact report of a 300-mile pipeline that stands to negatively and forever impact Great Basin National Park and surrounding communities and ecosystems. The assessment was issued in response to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s (SNWA) proposal to build a $15 billion pipeline to pump groundwater from remote valleys neighboring the national park, to feed Las Vegas homes and lawns.

The BLM’s environmental assessment concludes that the proposed groundwater pumping in valleys that surround Great Basin National Park could create serious dust emissions, harming the visibility within and on approach to the park. Of particular note is the Environmental Protection Agency and several organizations have questioned a lack of scientific data in the SNWA’s proposal.

“While further review of the environmental impact report is needed, the National Parks Conservation Association remains deeply concerned about potential dust bowl conditions created by the water mining project, which would spoil Great Basin National Park’s famed dark night skies, noted as the darkest in the lower 48 states,” said Lynn Davis, Nevada Field Office Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “The threats of this water mining project are far reaching: it could be built at anguishing public expense, could dry up the area and plunder Great Basin National Park, threaten the region’s rural life, and create health issues that would multiply economic and social losses.”

NPCA and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees point to concern expressed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Park Service on the draft version of the environmental impact report. In addition to remarking on the likely impacts to Great Basin National Park, the EPA cited strong potential for dust emissions to create public health issues as far away as the Salt Lake City metropolitan areas and southern Nevada.

“The only bright spot in the BLM’s decision is its rejection of a proposed pipeline extension into Snake Valley, on the national park’s eastern boundaries, due to the water agency’s inability to determine impact to wildlife and surrounding communities,” says Davis.

“We are greatly relieved and grateful that the BLM’s final preferred alternative excludes Snake Valley, one of the two valleys adjacent to Great Basin National Park,” said Rick Smith, speaking for the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. “We remain concerned, however, about the project’s impacts from Spring Valley pumping. As we stated earlier in our testimony to the Nevada State Engineer, not enough is yet known to be able to predict accurately the effects on Great Basin National Park resources. And we are concerned, if and when monitoring reveals a significant impact, it could be too late to mitigate the impact.”

The National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees are now calling on the Nevada State Engineer to take the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, and BLM’s valid reasoning into consideration, and to permanently retire groundwater rights in Snake Valley.


Coalition of National Park Service Retirees:
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees studies, educates, speaks, and acts for preservation and protection of America’s National Park System and the mission-related programs of the National Park Service. Visit

About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit