Proposed plan for new Nevada city heads to Supreme Court

Moapa dace
Moapa dace(The Center for Biological Diversity)
Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 10:55 AM PDT
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - A proposed plan for a city of 250,000 outside Las Vegas is headed to the Nevada Supreme Court over water concerns.

The litigation features 18 parties arguing over the scarce water resources of an aquifer system in Clark County, as well as arguing over the endangered Moapa dace that relies on the springs provided by the aquifer.

The Moapa dace is a small, four-inch fish that lives exclusively in the spring in the Muddy River area northeast of Las Vegas. The river provides drinking water for cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.

In 2020, the Nevada state engineer, who manages the state’s water, issued an order designating the aquifer as a single unit and determined how much groundwater could be sustainably pumped from it.

The Center for Biological Diversity, Nevada state engineer, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and the Muddy Valley Irrigation Company will argue that the state engineer was within his authority issue such an order.

The Supreme Court will assess a 2022 lower court ruling that the state engineer was not at liberty to do so, and that water basin boundaries are unchanging.

Water speculator Vidler Water Resources Inc. will argue in favor of the lower court’s ruling, having applied for billions of gallons of water rights.

The proposed city, to be called Coyote Springs, would be located 50 miles outside Las Vegas.

“Greedy real estate developers and water speculators want us to deny science and pretend the desert has an unlimited water supply,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The ancient fossil carbonate aquifer underlying the Lower White River Flow System is a finite resource that is already spoken for by the endangered Moapa dace.”