Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 | 5:09 p.m.
A group says it has filed a petition with comments from 21,000 people opposed to the application of the Southern Nevada Water Authority to pump millions of gallons of water annually from rural counties to Las Vegas.
The Center for Biological Diversity says the project is a financial boondoggle and would destroy huge swaths of rural communities.
The document was submitted to the office of state Engineer Jason King, who must decide on the application of the Water Authority to pipe 125,976 acre feet of water a year to serve the growing population of Southern Nevada. An acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons.
Residents have until Dec. 2 to submit comments to King before lawyers for both sides will file briefs.
Rob Mrowka, an ecologist for the center, said the projected $15.5 billion cost for the project would increase in the average water bill from $36 to more than $90 a month.
Mrowka said in a petition to the state engineer, “It doesn’t make sense to rob Nevada’s wildlife in these rural areas of the water they need just to quench the thirst of unsustainable growth, whether it’s Las Vegas or Coyote Springs.”
Paul Taggart, attorney for the Water Authority, said piping water from four rural counties would not turn them into dust bowls. He said 70 percent of Nevada’s population based in Clark County needs the water.
King completed a 24-day hearing on Nov. 18, heard 82 witnesses and received more than 10,000 pages of exhibits.