Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2017

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Hearing opens on proposed Nevada water pipeline

CARSON CITY — An attorney for the Southern Nevada Water Authority said at a hearing today its plan to pump water from rural areas would not harm existing users, while a lawyer for opponents said it would destroy water resources.

The state Engineer’s Office opened two weeks of hearings on a judge’s order to reconsider a ruling that the Water Authority could draw 83,958 acre feet of water a year from valleys in White Pine and Lincoln counties.

Paul Taggart, attorney for the Water Authority, said State Engineer Jason King made the correct decision and would like an additional 3,500 acre feet. An acre foot is equal to 325,851 gallons of water.

Simeon Herskovits, an attorney representing the counties, ranchers and environmental groups, argued the state engineer didn’t follow the law in making his ruling. Evidence will show the applications by the Water Authority violate Nevada water law and should be denied, he said.

Paul Hejmanowski, representing the Cleveland Ranch, owned by the Mormon Church, said King’s initial ruling would deplete available water for generations to come. He said the amount of water the authority is seeking should be reduced.

The Water Authority’s applications were first filed in 1989 to pump water from the two rural counties. It is estimated a pipeline would cost more than $15 billion but is needed to serve the growing population of Southern Nevada.

The issue has been before the Nevada Supreme Court twice.

Susan Joseph-Taylor, deputy state engineer, is hearing the case. She said the state Engineer’s Office has 254 days to make a decision after a transcript of the hearing is completed. The ruling then goes back to the court for review.