The Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation plans to protest a Bureau of Land Management's apparent decision to OK pumping and piping desert groundwater to Las Vegas.
In a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released Friday, the BLM appears poised to grant the Southern Nevada Water Authority rights of way allowing the pumping of groundwater from four eastern Nevada valleys to Las Vegas.
The final EIS, however, appears not to support groundwater pumping from Snake Valley along the Utah-Nevada line. Still, critics say drilling in adjacent drainages will draw down the aquifer beneath Snake Valley.
"They're going to let Las Vegas steal our water, build a pipeline that's over 300 miles long and 8 feet wide and decimate our people," Ed Naranjo, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation (CTGR), said in a news release issued Saturday.
"The BLM is shoving this massive and reckless project down the throats of Indian tribes despite the fact that the federal government has a trust responsibility to preserve and protect all Indian tribal trust assets, which definitely includes water," Madeline Greymountain, CTGR vice chairwoman, added.
The CTGR notes in its news release that more than 950 protests have been filed by Indians and non-Indians against the project.
The tribe is also concerned about the role the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has played in process.
"What is most unconscionable here is that the BIA agreed that this was in the best interests of the Indian tribes in the area without ever talking to us or even just picking up the phone to talk," Greymountain said.
The confederated tribes will submit additional information to the BLM during the 60-day comment period required for the final EIS, addressing the flaws of the 5,000-plus page document.
"We'll be going over the EIS with a fine-tooth comb, looking to see if their information is accurate, if there are any legal issues and all other impacts to determine our remedies under the law," Naranjo said. "Water is life to us. If the federal government takes it away, we will cease to be a people."