Utah concedes to Nevada water demands in draft agreement

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.


3 Responses to “Utah concedes to Nevada water demands in draft agreement”

  1. admin
    August 14th, 2009 @ 11:04 am

    This comment came by e-mail from Susan Lynn of the Great Basin Water Network (http://www.greatbasinwater.net/)
    Apologies to all who have tried to comment but encountered server problems.

    What happens to the folks who protested 20 years ago in another 10 years, if the agreement goes forward? SNWA is just outwaiting its opponents. Because of time, there will be no protestants and all the elected officials will be gone….wringing their hands and saying farewell to a horrible project they’re avoiding. Officials cannot say no to Ms. Mulroy because of her wrath, but they won’t support their constituents either. They’re ducking and running.

  2. Item 5 | Chance of Rain
    November 17th, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    […] in the balance are another 36,000 acre feet of water a year, or enough for 72,000 homes, from Snake Valley, which straddles the Nevada-Utah border and is the final stop of the Las Vegas […]

  3. Saints bow to Vegas, reports LDS newspaper | Chance of Rain
    January 7th, 2010 @ 10:13 am

    […] Utah concedes to Nevada water demands […]

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