Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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DEVELOPMENT:

Whittemore wins water rights ruling

Beyond the Sun

CARSON CITY – The state engineer granted approval for the developers of the Coyote Springs development, 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas, to pipe 9,000 acre feet a year to the proposed master-planned community.

State Engineer Tracy Taylor has ruled the pumping of the water from the Lake Valley Hydrographic Basin in Lincoln County would not change its present conditions or harm future development.

Harvey Whittemore, developer of Coyote Springs, said the 9,000 acre feet, combined with other water rights, would be enough to serve 25,000 homes to be built over the next 25 years.

Leif Reid, attorney for Whittemore in the application, said the “ruling was a significant step forward for the project.”

Whittemore said lots will start to be sold in late 2009 and he hopes homes could be built in 2010. There is already a golf course on the 43,000 acre planned development.

Whittemore purchased the Atlanta Farms in Lincoln County and asked the state for permission to pump 12,000 acre feet a year from the ranch to Coyote Springs, via a pipeline to be built by the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Taylor, in his ruling, said that Whittemore would construct his own pipeline if the authority fails to follow through in its plans.

To make sure there are no adverse effects in Lincoln County, Taylor said the export of water must be in stages. He granted Whittemore rights to use 9,000 acre feet initially and ordered there be strict monitoring annually to show there’s no ill effects.

Taylor said an additional 2,300 acre feet could be pumped from the ranch.

His ruling said, “The state engineer finds that the export of the reduced amount of water is an appropriate long-term use, which will not unduly limit the future growth and development in the basin from which the water is exported.”

Taylor said the project was unique because Whittemore is not asking for additional water, only the permission to export his water on Atlanta Farms to his development in Lincoln and Clark counties.

The engineer said there is a chance the water in Lake Valley may be over-pumped and that is why he is ordered a staged withdrawal.

The application was filed in 2005 and the hearing was held in April this year.

Taylor rejected the protest of White Pine County that complained that 669 acres of agriculture property in Lake Valley was in its county. And this could result in loss of $40,000 in tax revenue.

White Pine also complained it might affect the hunting and cattle ranching in the area. Taylor said White Pine “failed to provide any evidence how these applications would negatively affect cattle and wildlife or otherwise negatively impact the economy of White Pine County.”

Taylor noted no water is being taken from White Pine County.

He also rejected other protests that the pumping out of Lake Valley would draw down the water table by 200-300 feet. Taylor said the water rights are now and have been in the past been for irrigation purposes.

He said there won’t be any increase in the consumptive use of the water if his order is followed.

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