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Native American Group to Run Across Nevada in Water Protest

Many rural Nevada communities are opposed to the idea of pumping groundwater from outlying regions of the state to serve Las Vegas. (Ken Lund/Flickr)
Many rural Nevada communities are opposed to the idea of pumping groundwater from outlying regions of the state to serve Las Vegas. (Ken Lund/Flickr)
September 28, 2018

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Members of Nevada's Native American communities are planning to run nearly 300 miles next week to call for more sustainable water management in the state.

The Nevada state engineer denied a permit in August for a controversial pipeline plan decades in the making, to pump groundwater hundreds of miles from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. The Southern Nevada Water Authority says it will appeal the decision.

Opponents of the plan include conservation groups and Native American tribes, who fear the pumping project would dry up fragile ecosystems. Beverly Harry, an organizer of the Water Protectors Sacred Water Run, says runners' first goal is to show their opposition to the pipeline.

"The second thing is to evaluate exactly what we need to do to protect waters of Nevada, and what are we going to do to address that? Because that's within the power of all of the state officials," says Harry.

About a dozen people from different indigenous communities are planning a relay-style run starting Monday in Snake Valley. They'll roughly follow the path of the proposed pipeline about 290 miles, and plan to finish Thursday in Las Vegas.

Toby Stump will be among the runners. He says his Native spirituality calls him to stand up for natural resources.

"How long does resources last?” asks Stump. “You know, how many people does it take to use up something, or how far can you go on what you have now?"

As Nevada continues to cope with drought, and state officials rethink the state's water management, the Sacred Water Run organizers say they don't want to see urban water rights prioritized over the rights of rural communities.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - NV