Las Vegas Sun

July 20, 2018

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Hearing set on proposed Nevada water pipeline

CARSON CITY — Another chapter begins Monday in a 28-year effort to pump millions of gallons of water a year from rural Nevada to Las Vegas.

The State Engineer’s Office will conduct hearings for about two weeks on the applications of the Southern Nevada Water Authority to draw nearly 84,000 acre feet of underground water from White Pine and Lincoln counties. An acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

Susan Joseph-Taylor, deputy administrator of the Nevada Division of Water Resources, will be the hearing officer. She said all the exhibits have been submitted for the hearing in Carson City. Public comment is scheduled for Sept. 29 and will be limited to three minutes per person.

County officials, ranchers, Native American tribes, environmentalists and the Mormon Church, which owns a ranch in Eastern Nevada, have opposed the project, which is estimated would cost more than $15 billion and include 300 miles of pipelines.

Taylor said it will take about a month for the transcripts to be prepared and state Engineer Jason King will then have 240 days to make a decision.

After a previous hearing, King decided that up to 84,000 acre feet of water could be pumped from four valleys to Las Vegas. But hundreds of opponents filed a lawsuit, and a judge ordered King to conduct further evaluations.

The judge wants King to re-evaluate the impact of drawing the water and if existing water rights will be damaged. The focus is on Spring Valley, Dry Lake Valley, Delamar Valley and Cave Valley.

A December 2013 ruling also ordered King to determine the impact on nearby Millard and Juab counties in Utah.

The case started in 1989 when the Las Vegas Valley Water District submitted applications to the state for the unappropriated water in the four valleys. The Southern Nevada Water Authority succeeded the Las Vegas Valley Water District.

The State Engineer’s Office issued a prior ruling granting some of the water sought by the Water Authority. But that ruling was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court.

When King does his recalculations, the case will return to the court for a decision, which is expected to be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.