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Las Vegas Water Decision a Victory for Family Ranchers

October 30, 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - While the headlines have been filled with lawyers and public officials reacting to the state court ruling in the Las Vegas water pipeline case, little attention has been paid to the ranchers who filed the suit along with the Great Basin Water Network. Nevada 7th Judicial District Judge Norman Robison ruled the state engineer's decision was arbitrary and an abuse of discretion when he awarded millions of gallons per year to the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Kena Lytle Gloeckner says the ruling means that the Lytle ranch, which has been in her family for nearly 150 years, now has a chance to survive.

"We felt almost powerless when there was hardly anyone left to protest. because Southern Nevada Water Authority has slowly, but surely, bought out other ranchers. Our hope is that this decision is upheld for the future of everyone. "

Attorneys for the Water Authority plan to appeal. They say the ruling ignores 100 years of Nevada Water Law and displays a bias against Las Vegas.

Rancher Pat Gloeckner says it is the state water engineer who has been ignoring precedent, because Gloeckner says he was giving the Southern Nevada Water Authority 100 percent of the recharge in Dry Lake Valley. That's where the Lytle Ranch runs cattle five months out of the year. Gloeckner says allocating that much recharge is unheard of, and it risks drying up the local water supply.

"But, if they do pump all this water, and it does affect our springs and if we have to haul water to our cattle, we'll just shut down. That's just too costly."

Gloeckner is optimistic about the case being upheld on appeal because he says both the science and the state water law are on the rancher's side. The State Engineer's office has yet to announce whether it will file its own appeal.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV