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July 3, 2015

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Opponents say no need to pump water from rural Nevada to Las Vegas

CARSON CITY — Opponents say the Southern Nevada Water Authority used “obfuscation and distortion” in presenting evidence to justify pumping millions of gallons of water from rural counties, according to a court brief.

They maintain the authority failed to show it needs the added water for the Las Vegas area and questioned whether the authority can finance the $15 billion pipeline project.

Local governments, ranchers, farmers and conservation groups filed a brief Thursday in District Court in Ely asking a judge to overturn the state’s decision allowing the Water Authority to take 83,988 acre feet of water a year from four rural valleys in Eastern Nevada.

Simeon Herskovits, attorney for the group, said the decision will result in taking “every last drop of available water” from the valleys.

If allowed to stand, there will be a “serious and catastrophic impact” on the residents and economy of those rural areas and it will impact existing water rights.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Bryan Stockton, representing the state, will file his opening brief on April 15. Senior District Judge Robert Estes will hear oral arguments June 13-14 in Ely.

Herskovits, of the Advocates for Community and Environment in El Prado, N.M., maintains the Water Authority’s estimate of the population growth in the Las Vegas area is too high and is based on outdated data.

He said the pipeline isn’t needed and the Water Authority could implement more effective conservation programs.

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