Tribe’s water protests garner little sympathy for their cause
September 22, 2007
The tactics of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and Churchill County to stop water transfers in Northern Nevada are holding the region’s economy hostage.
The tribe says its motives are to prevent what it fears is a looming disaster by preventing historic water flows to the Carson River from being affected by water rights transfers. That’s a prospect that deserves consideration, but that they’ve chosen the most damaging tactic possible to achieve it hasn’t drawn any sympathy for the cause. The tribe and the county have challenged every water rights transfer – even those that can clearly be shown to have no negative impact on water supply to the river.
Among the many projects on hold are a church, a project that, in balance, would actually have a positive effect on water usage if the proposed transfer were approved. Another is the $25 million Carson Tahoe Dayton Hospital. It’s been set back by an untold sum of money and likely a year, something that reaches far beyond the board of directors and into the community it would serve and the lives it might save.
As a result, the tribe’s refusal to move away from its blanket approach in protesting every transfer can easily be viewed as selfish and arrogant, especially when its representatives have resisted efforts by those affected to open up a dialog.
There’s clearly something wrong with a process that, contrary to fairness and common sense, puts so much power into the hands of one or two entities, and that bureaucracy needs to be corrected. Maybe waking up to that fact and correcting it will be the real long term benefit of this painful process.
But in the short term, Churchill County and the Paiutes should let their hostages go and reach out for the extended hand of cooperation. Everyone will benefit.