Las Vegas Sun

November 25, 2015

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Environmental impact statement issued for proposed water pipeline

CARSON CITY — The final environmental impact statement has been released on plans by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to pump nearly 84,000 acre feet of water a year from rural counties to Las Vegas.

An acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

The Bureau of Land Management, which released the report, said a decision whether to grant the right of way for construction on public lands will not be made before Oct. 1.

The environmental impact statement estimates the project would include 263 miles of buried water pipeline, 280 miles of power lines, six electrical substations, a 40-million-gallon-per-day buried storage reservoir and a 165-million-gallon-per-day water treatment plant.

State Engineer Jason King issued a ruling in March that would allow water to be pumped from Lincoln and White Pine counties.

King’s decision is being challenged in District Court in White Pine County; no hearing date has been set.

Zane Marshall, director of environmental resources for the water authority, said this was one of the most comprehensive studies of a municipal water project and the pipeline “is critical to both Southern Nevada and our entire state’s future.”

Marshall said moving the project forward “gives Southern Nevadans a safety net against potential shortages.”

The Great Basin Water Network, opposed to the pipeline, said the environmental impact statement outlines an environmental, economic and social disaster if the project is allowed to go forward.

Susan Lynn, coordinator of the network that includes ranchers, sportsmen, tribal representatives and environmentalists, said the BLM must reject the project in its final decision in October.

The network said the biggest concern may be the $15.5 billion cost of the project.

Launce Rake, a board member of the water network, said spending that money will benefit contractors and Wall Street finance companies, “but it does not make our community more secure.”

Rake said the water authority needs to concentrate on conservation.

“The SNWA this year has budgeted $10 million for water conservation. Compare that to the billions of dollars the agency would charge ratepayers on pumping schemes that would increase our dependency on unreliable and unsustainable ground water reserves,” Rake said.

The water authority did not have any immediate comment.

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