Friday, March 23, 2012

State allows pumping of groundwater from rural Nevada

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has something to put in its pipeline once again. Nevada's top water regulator on Thursday granted the authority permission to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year from four rural valleys in Lincoln and White Pine counties. That is about two-thirds as much water as authority officials were seeking, but it's 5,200 acre-feet more than they got the last time around. The decision from State Engineer Jason King comes roughly two years after the state Supreme Court struck down two previous rulings that granted the authority almost 79,000 acre-feet a year from Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys. Las Vegas water officials originally applied for almost 126,000 acre-feet of unappropriated water in the four valleys as part of a larger plan to siphon groundwater from across eastern Nevada. They hope to deliver the water to the Las Vegas Valley someday through a multibillion-dollar network of pumps and pipelines stretching more than 300 miles. King also called for at least two years of scientific data collection before any water is exported from Spring Valley or the other basins. Also, he ordered the authority to develop state-approved groundwater flow models and a monitoring and mitigation plan to protect against harmful effects on other water users and the environment. But rancher Hank Vogler said no amount of safeguards can protect rural Nevada once the pipeline is built and the water starts flowing south. "I don't think there's anyone with a big enough checkbook to stop it then," said the 63-year-old Vogler, who has lived and worked in Spring Valley for almost half his life. "No one is going to have the appetite to say, 'Oh, shucks, we made a $15 billion mistake. Let's shut it down.' "...more

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