Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2018

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Opponents of water pipeline project testify at hearing

CARSON CITY — Opponents of plans to pump millions of gallons of water from eastern Nevada to the Las Vegas said at a hearing today that the proposed pipeline would wreak havoc with the rural counties.

Ranchers, environmentalists and county officials said the project by the Southern Nevada Water Authority would conflict with existing water rights, damage wildlife refuges and hurt the areas for future economic development.

Rob Dotson, an attorney for the Water Authority, said there would be written comments supporting the project from the Southern Nevada casino industry, labor unions and construction companies, among others.

A total of 14 people testified against the project during a hearing by the state Engineer’s Office, which initially OK’d pumping 83,958 acre feet of water from White Pine and Lincoln counties. An acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

Senior District Court Judge Robert Estes ordered State Engineer Jason King to re-evaluate the decision, including whether there was adequate water to pipe to Las Vegas.

The Water Authority has completed its case to show the pipeline would not deplete the water sources. Deputy State Engineer Susan Joseph-Taylor said opponents of the plan would start their testimony Monday, and the hearing should end by Friday.

Kena Globckner, a rancher from Dry Lake Valley, said the project would interfere with water rights. “There is no way an individual taxpayer can compete with an agency supported by tax money,” she said.

She urged the state Engineer’s Office, when it makes its decision, to protect Dry Lake Valley in Lincoln Valley.

Abby Johnson of the Great Basin Water Network and a resident of White Pine County said the pipeline would “lay waste to Spring Valley.”

Jeff Fountain of the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority said a decision to grant the applications would set a precedent to draw water from rural Nevada to serve Southern Nevada.

King will present the court with his decision on whether to revise his findings next year.

The case started in 1989, when the first applications were filed for the $15.5 billion project.