29 Jan 2010, 9:31pm
by admin

Ruling may sink Snake Valley water deal

Nevada Supreme Court decision puts the proposed $3.5 billion pipeline on indefinite hold.

By Patty Henetz, The Salt Lake Tribune, 01/29/2010 [here]

A top water official moved too slowly on a 1989 Las Vegas request for certain water rights, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday — a finding that could delay or even kill a $3.5 billion proposal to pipe water 300 miles from Snake Valley to Sin City.

The ruling prompted Utah officials to stand down on a pending Snake Valley water-sharing agreement with neighboring Nevada. A recent Salt Lake Tribune poll of Utah voters shows across-the-board opposition to that plan.

“Based on the additional requirements imposed by the Nevada Supreme Court,” Gov. Gary Herbert said, “an agreement, at this time, is premature.”

The unanimous Supreme Court decision said Nevada state Engineer Tracy Taylor “violated his statutory duty” when he failed to make a decision by 1991 on 34 applications made by the Southern Nevada Water Authority for rights to water in aquifers under three Nevada valleys. Government scientists and other geology experts say those aquifers are connected with Snake Valley. …

The ruling stems from a “due process” appeal of Taylor’s 2006 decision to deny petitions from at least 54 individuals and groups representing thousands of people who wanted Nevada to reopen the water-rights application protest period.

The separate due-process matter now must go back to the lower court, which has two choices: Make the southern Nevada utility reapply for water rights or reopen the protest period.

Either choice would mean Utah counties, environmental groups, west desert ranchers, wildlife advocates, scientists and residents, heretofore shut out, could have a say in the proceedings. …

Great Basin Water Network coordinator Rose Strickland called the ruling “a home run for the public.”

“If we follow the law and the science,” she said, “there will be no misguided pipeline threatening the environment and economies of rural Nevada and Utah.” … [more]



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