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« My WaTER Conference Presentation in Absentia | Main | Ooops! Judge: No SNWA Pumping From Cave, Delamar, and Dry Lake Valleys »

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


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Water conservation is really important especially when a lot of towns don't have the resources to re-direct water from places like that. Wendover is on the border of Nevada and Utah and as a resident I worry about what will happen in the future as the city grows in size. For more information on Wendover feel free to visit:


Emily ... I am grateful to you as I recently was to Michael for this posting which takes me back to those days during my high school years spending summers putting up hay in Lincoln County and spending time in those environs you pictured in your posting. Sadly on my most recent visit to this area several years ago now, there is less life and the once reasonably vibrant communities of Caliente, Pioche and even Ely were all showing signs of neglect as the young have moved in search of jobs and careers.

I can recall early on as a youngster in Las Vegas hearing idle comments that one day when Vegas needs more water it will look to take the water from Lincoln and While Pine Counties as with their limited population and political strength they could do little to stop it. Fast forward about 40 years and it certainly appears that Vegas has stacked the deck and is about ready to run the table.

The precedent for this water taking has been well established witness Los Angeles taking of the water in the Owens Valley, which when my Dad was a boy was reported to be “alive” with abundant water and fishing extraordinaire. Today, it’s life force has been severed and it has been left to wither as will be all those spots where Vegas takes water in Lincoln and White Pine Counties. I am not a climatologist but I wonder what impact this taking will have on Wheeler Peak and the ecology it currently supports not to mention the affect on Great Basin National Park.

Having lived nearly all my life in Nevada and Arizona’s desert environments … water … from an early age was taught to be respected and used correctly. Obliviously, correctly is subject, though I was taught I was not to “take” another’s water. There was an ethic regarding water that was observed, though I recognize today, such a comment at best might draw only a snicker.

Snake Valley water is, in my estimation, one of the bargaining chips being thus far skillfully manipulated by Vegas as is seeks to continue stacking the deck making those opposed to its endeavors show more of their hand. I know not the outcome, though in my heart I feel water in the rural west is under siege and in a nation which places paramount value on things monetary, those living in rural west are fighting an uphill battle as the “bigs” have taken the high ground and are selectively pitting one rural community against another … divide and conquer ….


Paul F Miller


Dear Emily and Patty,

Thanks for your comments.

What my colleague meant (I suspect) was verified by another hydrogeologist who did his MS thesis in Snake Valley and environs abut 25 years ago. He said Snake Valley does not have a classic central 'wet' (i.e., groundwater discharge area) playa where virtually all of the ET is, but has regions of ET distributed about the valley, to which Emily alluded. Total annual ET = 64,000 to 80,000 AF.

Patty Henetz

I'm glad Emily posted, because unless there's some definition of dry playa I've never heard of, Snake Valley ain't one. Maybe further explication of the colleague's comment is in order?

Emily Green

Yes, but that's shared with California so sometimes Nevadans call Wheeler the tallest because it's theirs, all theirs, and so is its snowmelt, says Pat Mulroy. Hers, all hers.

What a wonderful post. And seriously, one point -- though drier-looking than Spring Valley, Snake Valley is not a dry playa, it is the second most valuable wet valley on the SNWA map hence the epic fight over it. The springs can be heard running noisily in Baker late into the summer. Different springs discharge throughout the valley, including the spectacular Big Springs which produces a quite considerable stream. These springs are fed in part by streamflow but also by groundwater, some of which hydrologists suspects emanates from Spring Valley. There are meadows throughout it, and some riparian zones with highly complex aquatic systems. It is also carpeted with phreatophytes, mainly greasewood. In areas where farmers have over-pumped and the greasewood has died, they already have formidable dust problems. I digress. Wonderful post and pictures.


While Wheeler Peak might well be the most impressive peak in Nevada, it is not the highest. That distinction belongs to Boundary Peak at 13,147 feet.

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