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Stopping Nevada Water Pipeline With Snails?

Stopping Nevada Water Pipeline With Snails?

Here’s an interesting water quality story bubbling up in Nevada right now: an environmental group has filed a suit to get four species of tiny springsnails as protected to keep Las Vegas from pumping billions of gallons of water from rural areas.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has been granted approval in March to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year from four rural valley to Las Vegas by Jason King, Nevada’s state engineer, according to an article by the Associated Press.

In August, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management recommended approval of the 280-mile long pipeline that would cost $3 billion.

Las Vegas has been the center of water controversies in the past with its rapid growth and associated thirst – a metropolis now home to 2 million people and host to 40 million tourists a year.

And Environmental groups have argued the plan to pump water would greatly reduce ground water levels – threatening wildlife, agriculture, ranching and rural communities, according to the AP article.

The latest lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity was filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington DC, asking the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue conclusions on whether the bifid duct, flag, hardy and Lake Valley pyrg springsnails deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to the article.

In a preliminary finding last year prompted by a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity in 2009 found the snails, measuring about an eight of an inch to a quarter of an inch in size, may warrant protection.

The suit doesn’t target the Southern Nevada Water Authority or its pipeline project, but would give opponents more ammunition in fighting it, according to the Associated Press.

The snails date back to the ice age, said Rob Mrowka, a Nevada Advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity in the AP story, isolated as ice receded to evolve independently in accordance to the conditions of each spring.

They are an important part of the ecosystem, depended on by frogs, toads dragonflies, damsel flies, desert fish, birds and animals, according to the article.