Dave Maxwell
Pahranagat Valley National Wildlife Refuge will soon be building a new underground water pipeline system to better manage water delivery to the wetland marshes.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW) service has issued a draft environmental assessment for a proposed water line on the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge.

In a press release, it noted the public has the opportunity to review and comment on USFW plans for constructing an underground water-delivery system to the refuge.

Rob Vinson, manager for both Pahranagat and Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuges, said he is excited. “It is going to definitely improve our water-management capabilities, something that the refuge needs. And since it will be going underground, it will greatly reduce any water loss associated with water seeping back into the ground in the earthen, sandy ditches.”

The environmental assessment for the project is available online on at www.fws.gov/refuge/Pahranagat/what_we_do/conservation.html as well as several locations in southern Nevada including the Alamo Post Office, the Lincoln County Courthouse Annex in Alamo, the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge office and the Bureau of Land Management Caliente Field Office. The public comment period closes June 1.

Construction of an underground pipeline system will provide independent water delivery to the wetland habitats south of Upper Pahranagat Lake. The project includes installation of approximately three miles of underground pipeline with outlets at Whin Marsh, Middle Marsh and Lower Pahranagat Lake.

Areas impacted by the pipeline are located in previously disturbed sites, and native vegetation will be restored to the construction areas after the project is completed.

Vinson noted the current system for water delivery has its drawbacks, given that it does not allow for the wetlands to be managed independently.

“What we’re doing with this new pipeline,” he said, “is increasing the water- delivery capability in the water coming from Upper Lake, which can be sent to whichever wetland marsh we want at any time throughout the year, and closing the inlets that are not having water delivered at that time.”

In other words, it’s like irrigating a field. Close inlets to one or two fields and open another, allowing more water flow into a given area.

The new pipeline will also reduce water loss from the existing earthen-ditch system.

Vinson said the project will be a design-build. “Bids are out now and the firm awarded the bid will have to design the system. I estimate the pipeline will be a 20-inch diameter pipe with an 18 cubic-feet-per-second delivery rate.”

The Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 to provide habitat for migratory birds, especially waterfowl. Situated along the migratory Pacific Flyway, the refuge covers 5,380 acres, with two lakes and three wetland marshes … rare sites in this part of rural Nevada.