Dean Baker, a rancher and activist for the protection of water rights in west-central Utah’s Snake Valley, could become wealthy by selling his property to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The principal communities in the Snake Valley, from north to south, are Callao, Trout Creek, Partoun, EskDale, Baker, and Garrison.
“People don’t understand me,” Baker said, referring to his refusal to sell.
What makes Baker’s property valuable is that it is a coveted water source. But after 55 years of ranching, Baker isn’t ready to give up his home or see his agriculture and livestock suffer because of underground pumping.
According to the Great Basin Water Network, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), the water agency for Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev., proposes to pump up to 200,000 acre-feet annually from eastern Nevada and western Utah and send it through 300 miles of pipeline to support larger cities. This comes to about 65 billion gallons of water per year.
Ecologists and hydrologists estimate the water table will drop as much as 100 feet in the first 10 years of the pipeline, killing the current vegetation and wiping out the wildlife and livelihoods of the rural communities including the Snake, Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys.