Posted on | August 13, 2009 | 3 Comments
BREAKING NEWS: Utah and Nevada today produced a draft agreement for the splitting of groundwater from the shared basin of Snake Valley.
Since making the single largest block of groundwater claims in Nevadan history in 1989, Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager Patricia Mulroy has been seeking Snake Valley groundwater, along with reserves from four other target basins, to feed a 300-mile-long pipeline proposed to tap the Great Basin Carbonate Aquifer. Snake Valley is the second most water-rich valley in the Las Vegas pipeline plan.
Utah has opposed pumps in Snake Valley out of the belief that Las Vegas’s wells will lead to another Owens Valley-type scenario, leaving the Salt Lake capital downwind from the kind of dust-storms caused by Los Angeles’s groundwater pumps in the Eastern Sierra.
The news of Utah’s willingness to cede 36,000 acre feet of water per year, or enough for 144,000 Las Vegans, comes after four years of often bitter debate over Nevada’s right to the water and the potential impacts.
Nevada had been asking for more than 50,000 acre feet per year.
Under the proposed agreement, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which serves greater Las Vegas, will not be able to pursue pumping rights before Nevada’s State Engineer until a host of environmental impact studies are completed in 2019.
The Las Vegas authority had been pressing for a far earlier date, but today its general manager Patricia Mulroy told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the decade-long delay will not forestall pipeline construction.
“That doesn’t cause us any concern because that is the last valley on the system,” she said.
The draft agreement will go before town hall meetings in Utah and Nevada in coming weeks and months. Meanwhile, reacting to mounting opposition to the $3.5 bn Great Basin pipeline project, SNWA’s Mulroy will be demanding an “up or down” vote on whether to proceed from her board next week.
Breakdown, analysis to follow.
To read the Utah Department of Natural Resources press release on the agreement, click here.
For a five-part over view of the Las Vegas pipeline plan, “Quenching Las Vegas’s Thirst,” click here.
For a recent story on the political quid pro quo between Utah and Nevada with more news links and opinion pieces, click here.
For the Southern Nevada Water Authority, proponents of the pipeline, click here.
For the Great Basin Water Network, formed to oppose the pipeline, click here.