A glassy lake reflects a cloudy and blue sky, with a sandy and rocky beach and a sign marking the lake level.

Legal hurdles fall in effort to save Walker Lake in Nevada

On July 28, 2022 the United States District Court in Reno, Nevada agreed to a Walker Lake Working Group (WLWG) motion to allow legal service by publication. This brings to near completion a 30-year effort to legally notify all Walker River Basin water rights holders of the litigation to save Walker Lake. The court had previously required individual notification of thousands of basin water rights holders and successors living throughout the country.

On August 5, 2022 Chief United States District Judge Miranda M. Du denied the Walker River Irrigation District (WRID) motion to dismiss WLWG/Mineral County’s Second Amended Complaint in Intervention. WRID was essentially appealing the previous finding of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowing WLWG/Mineral County to pursue its Public Trust claim seeking remedies that would not involve a reallocation of previously adjudicated water.

Judge Du’s response to one of WRID’s arguments could well apply to their entire motion: “The Court finds it easy to knock down this unpersuasive straw man constructed by Principal Defendants (WRID).” “[The judge] delivered a complete legal victory for us on every one of those legal issues,” said WLWG attorney Simeon Herskovits.

It now falls to the District Court to find the correct path between an established appropriative system and Walker Lake’s newfound Public Trust rights. The WLWG—Mineral County citizens working out of their own homes—needs your help to continue their epic legal battle to put water, and eventually fish, back into Walker Lake.

Click here to donate to the Walker Lake Working Group.

Aerial view centered on snow capped mountains, a body of water is at the bottom.
An aerial view of Walker Lake with Mono Lake visible to the southwest, in the upper left-hand corner of the photo. Photo courtesy of Ken Lund.

Top photo courtesy of Raquel Baranow.