Great Basin Network says it will file lawsuit challenging pumping of rural water
CARS0N CITY, Mar 23, 2012 (Las Vegas Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
One of the main opponents of the Southern Nevada Water Authority's plan to pump water from Eastern Nevada to Las Vegas says it will challenge the state approval of the plan in court.
The Great Basin Water Network has served notice it will sue to overturn the decision of state Engineer Jason King, permitting 83,988 acre feet of water to be pumped from rural Nevada to Las Vegas.
"We believe that the state engineer has ignored or dismissed compelling hydrological evidence that we and other protestants submitted -- evidence that clearly showed that there is no unappropriated water available in Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys," Susan Lynn, coordinator of network, said.
Lynn said the network will consider its options but the decision will not go unchallenged.
Abigail Johnson of the Great Basin Network said, "Pumping and exporting 12 billion gallons of groundwater annually from Spring Valley will dry up springs and harm existing water rights both in Spring Valley and ... in Snake Valley, into which the ground water flows."
She said the amount of pumping the decision allows would lower the groundwater table by up to 200 feet, and equilibrium in the water table will not be reached for centuries with a strong likelihood of irreparable harm to Nevada's only national park (Great Basin National Park).
Simeon Herskovits, attorney for the opponents, said the ruling will be fought in the courts.
King in his decision Thursday said the Southern Nevada Water Authority justified its need for the additional water. The authority said it requires the water to meet the demands of growth in Las Vegas.
Scott Huntley, spokesman for the water authority, noted King's decision recognized that 90 percent of the water supply for the Las Vegas area comes from the Colorado River, which is subject to drought and is over-appropriated.
The water authority originally asked for 125,976 acre feet from the four valleys in White Pine and Lincoln counties but then lowered its request to 104,856 acre feet.
King said his ruling will permit development in Eastern Nevada's Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys. The ruling allows pumping of 61,127 acre feet in Spring Valley but it will be permitted only in stages with the first 38,000 acre feet coming over an eight-year period. The second 12,000 will be over the next eight years and the remainder after that. Monitoring will ensure there are no ill effects, King said.
King denied four applications in Spring Valley. He permitted an annual 5,235 acre feet to be pumped in Cave Valley, 11,584 acre feet in Dry Lake Valley and 6,04l2 in Delamar Valley.
An acre foot is 325,851 gallons.
Launce Rake of the network said the water authority has repeatedly said they won't start with the project until they must have water, which could be decades in the future. "This begs the question of whether SNWA (the water authority) has fully established a need for this water, and whether they have the ability to finance this enormously expensive project," he said.
Building the 263-mile pipeline would cost an estimate of $3.5 billion.
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