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North Las Vegas sues county over Sloan Channel effluent discharge


City of North Las Vegas

Treated water from the North Las Vegas water reclamation facility flows into Sloan Channel on June 9, 2011.

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Treated water from the North Las Vegas water reclamation facility flows into Sloan Channel on June 9, 2011.

The City of North Las Vegas sued Clark County on Thursday in a dispute over whether the city's new $300 million water reclamation plant can discharge effluent into the open Sloan Channel leading to Lake Mead.

The lawsuit asks the federal court in Las Vegas to allow the plant to discharge treated water to the flood channel. The plant treats sewage, but the lawsuit says most effluent discharged from the plant will be "surplus effluent" – clean water that is otherwise not re-used.

The plant can’t operate without discharging effluent into the channel since that’s the only outlet for the effluent.

The suit was filed after Clark County threatened to file its own lawsuit to block discharges into the channel.

The Clark County Commission is required by federal and state law to provide "area wide management and planning for all activities related to water quality and water pollution in Southern Nevada," the lawsuit notes.

Critics on the Clark County Commission say the city should have built a pipeline to carry the effluent to Lake Mead as the open, concrete Sloan Channel is used by hikers, bikers and skateboarders who won’t want to be exposed to the effluent.

The lawsuit, however, says the Clark County Commission has twice approved amendments to a federally-mandated regional plan that "specifically addressed" the city’s "proposed effluent discharge into Sloan Channel."

"An actual and justiciable controversy presently exists between the City of North Las Vegas and Clark County that, without declaratory relief, will cause harm to the city as evidenced by Clark County’s recent public statements that it would seek legal action against the city to stop the release of effluent water from the Water Reclamation Facility into Sloan Channel," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also names the U.S. Air Force as a defendant, as Nellis Air Force Base provided an easement to the city for the plant and resolution of the lawsuit will affect the base’s rights, the lawsuit says.

The City of North Las Vegas is represented in the lawsuit by attorneys with the law firm Snell & Wilmer LLP.

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