As an elected member of the Moapa Valley Water District (MVWD) I volunteered to monitor our water resources and I’d like to share my personal thoughts as it relates to protecting our community’s water.
I have observed a reality disconnect between the public interest and well-intended public land protection. Nothing is more public than our “public utilities” as they directly serve our community through publicly elected boards. In private meetings, I have watched reckless federal administrative action, intentional or accidental, block our utilities’ ability to serve the public. The tail now wags the dog because they have not included a local public process when creating these “land protections.”
Most people are not aware that MVWD lost $800,000 of EPA grant funding (that is over 25% of our annual revenue) because BLM refused to act on a community water well right-of-way. In BLM’s most recent public land planning process (the RMP) they completely ignored our water resources located on public land surrounding our service territory even though we were a “cooperating agency.” I feel the public needsto know that the effect of unrestrained public land protection, without addressing local utility needs, are extremely detrimental to our citizens and communities.
This same pattern of public neglect has once again played out with the Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD). The recent Gold Butte National Monument designation consumed 15% of VVWD’s water with a stroke of Obama’s pen, specifically ignoring VVWD’s request to preserve access to their water rights by keeping them outside the Monument.
As previously mentioned, MVWD has already played the “right-of-way game” with BLM and lost. Unless the Gold Butte National Monument is reduced to a reasonable size consistent with the Antiquities Act’s original intent, the boulder of reckless federal action, untempered by local public concurrence, will continue to crush communities surrounded by Federal Land.
MVWD, and all our other utilities, have faced and currently face similar conditions because this issue represents a larger destructive trend that will eventually consume all of our utility’s capacity to meet our public needs. We need to stop the “Washington DC method” of public land managment and establish a system that includes local community concurrence or we all lose.