Nevada State Engineer refills Vegas pipeline

Click on the scoreboard to be taken to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report of yesterday's pipeline decision.

It was never supposed to be a fight. When 22 years ago Las Vegas water manager Pat Mulroy first filed claims on all the theoretically unappropriated water in five rural valleys in eastern Nevada, opponents were supposed to roll over or be crushed. In Mulroy’s corner were all the money and influence that Vegas could bring to bear. A remark reportedly made early in 2007 by Mulroy during a Las Vegas Sun editorial board meeting summed up the odds. In it, when asked what she would do if the State Engineer denied her claims, Mulroy allegedly replied that she would have the Governor of Nevada replace him.

The story may or may not be true*, however, the point is that it could be. It sounds like Pat. No one familiar with what

Opening day notes

From left to right: Las Vegas water authority witnesses Kay Brothers, John Entsminger and Richard Holmes were sworn in on Monday, September 26th at the Carson City hearings being held by the State Engineer of Nevada to determine whether and in what quantity to permit groundwater pumping for a Las Vegas pipeline.

 

Pat Mulroy seemed haggard and uncharacteristically subdued as hearings commenced today in Carson City over whether to allow Las Vegas to pump groundwater from four rural valleys to support more casinos and houses in Southern Nevada. Yet, as she took more than half a day’s questioning, the performance today by Southern Nevada Water Authority’s controversial general manager built into one of her best. She all but annihilated suggestions by opponents that increased conservation, water trades from California or desalination were magic bullets that would obviate the need for rural groundwater to keep Las Vegas in business. Anyone

Vegas pipeline hearing timeline sketched

FOLLOWING a series of damning court decisions that vacated almost 80,000 acre feet a year of groundwater awards to Las Vegas from four valleys in rural Nevada, the State Engineer has published a tentative schedule to re-notice and re-hear the cases. If the brisk timeline is kept, the decisions over whether or not to tap the Great Basin Aquifer to slake Las Vegas could come as early as mid-February 2012.

Under the new schedule, notices of the applications by Las Vegas for permission to tap rural groundwater over thousands of square miles will be published in regional Nevadan newspapers in November. The period in which affected parties may lodge legal protests entitling them to participate in the hearings will close in late December.

“The proper and most equitable remedy”

A typical entrance to a ranch in Spring Valley, Nevada. Yesterday's decision by the Nevada Supreme Court leaves 2007 awards of Spring Valley groundwater to Las Vegas standing, but calls for the reopening of a protest period that could usher in a powerful new generation of pipeline opponents. Photo: Emily Green

UPDATED: The Nevada Supreme Court yesterday issued a revision of a January ruling in which it again concluded that the State Engineer of Nevada violated due process rights of protestors by failing to hold timely public hearings on a plan by Las Vegas to tap rural groundwater. As remedy, the Court called for a new protest period that could refresh the ranks of pipeline opponents. However, the decision stopped short of voiding water awards already made to Las Vegas.

In 1989, the Las Vegas agency that is now part of the Southern Nevada Water Authority made sweeping applications

Notes on a skirmish

Goliath wasn’t really trying, didn’t really want to win and it never really was a contest. That’s the upshot of the response from the Southern Nevada Water Authority after a proposed amendment to do with its massive haul of water awards out of central Nevada failed to pass during the special session of state legislature, which closed early Monday.

Those opposing the amendment along with the SNWA’s proposed pipeline into the heart of the state claimed a huge victory. Dozens of Vegas lobbyists turned away! A great day for justice, the small man, everything good!

The Las Vegas water authority shrugged it off, saying that it had been working for the amendment in Carson City simply to help a beleaguered state natural resources agency protect thousands of water awards threatened as a byproduct of a nuisance suit brought by the pipeline protestors.

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    Emily Green by e-mail at emily.green [at] mac.com
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