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Southern Nevada Water Authority

Virgin River

Virgin River

Virgin River photo courtesy of the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation.

The Virgin River is a dynamic hydrologic system that supports several unique and fragile ecosystems. There are two endangered species of fish, at least two endangered species of bird, and many sensitive species of both plants and animals inhabiting the Virgin River corridor.

The introduction of non-native fish has had detrimental impacts on the biological resources of the Virgin River.

Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Program

The Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Program is a coordinated, multi-agency effort to protect the species and habitats of the lower Virgin River, while allowing water resource management on the Virgin River to proceed. The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) is a member of the Executive Committee.

Covered Species List

The following is a list of species covered under the Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Program.

Executive Committee

SNWA's involvement occurs primarily through the Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Program Executive Committee. This committee represents entities from Nevada and federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. Other participants are the Nevada Department of Wildlife, SNWA, the City of Mesquite and the Virgin Valley Water District.

Endangered Species Act

The Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Program will provide SNWA, the City of Mesquite and the Virgin Valley Water District with Endangered Species Act compliance for covered activities through implementation of its Habitat Conservation Plan over the next 30 years.

SNWA participates in Virgin River environmental efforts to ensure coordination with the management of its water rights.

These water resources include potential retirement of the agricultural use and conveyance of Virgin River agricultural water rights in Nevada to Lake Mead. Up to 31,591 acre-feet per year (AFY) could be channeled through the Virgin River and/or existing diversion or conveyance structures of both the Mesquite Irrigation Company and Bunkerville Irrigation Company to Lake Mead. These water rights will be developed by conveyance via the river to Lake Mead as Tributary Conservation Intentionally Created Surplus under the 2007 Colorado Interim Guidelines. Credits will then be withdrawn through existing SNWA facilities at Lake Mead, contributing to SNWA's complete long-term water portfolio by supplementing Colorado River water.

Program Goals

The goals and objectives of the Virgin River Habitat Conservation and Recovery Program were developed from the Virgin River Fishes Recovery Plan (USFWS 1995) as downlisting and delisting criteria. Conservation and/or recovery actions have been identified for two fish species (Virgin River chub and woundfin) and three riparian bird species (southwestern willow flycatcher, Yuma clapper rail and yellow-billed cuckoo). While separate actions and priorities have been developed, the full suite of conservation and/or recovery actions will be a coordinated effort for the program to ensure that restoration efforts are optimal for all species and to ensure efficiency.

In addition to the program, the Lower Virgin River Recovery Implementation Team is working to develop a conservation action plan for the endangered woundfin and Virgin River chub. This team also is conducting research and implementing interim conservation measures for these listed fish.


Video: Energy Synergy


Renewable energy is used to treat and deliver our drinking water. Play

Photos: Endangered Species


View photos of endangered species monitored by SNWA. See

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