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Authority reaffirms support for water pipeline

Updated Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 | 2:56 p.m.

In a move largely seen as a vote of confidence for Director Pat Mulroy, the governing board of the Southern Nevada Water Authority today voted unanimously to allow staff to continue the permitting process for a planned water pipeline from White Pine County to Las Vegas.

The Water Authority board had previously granted authority to move forward with the plans, but with the election of new board members, Mulroy said she wanted another vote to gauge their support.

The board also voted to approve an agreement between the water authority and the states of Nevada and Utah over the shared water basin beneath Snake Valley, which lies at the foot of Great Basin National Park. Under the agreement, the states will split the available water and the water authority agrees to hold off on a large water rights application in the basin for ten years. The agreement also includes requirements to further study the hydrology of the basin to determine whether more water is available.

Water from the Snake Valley is central to the water authority’s plans to pump tens of thousands of acre feet of water from rural basins and transport it to Las Vegas. It has requested 50,000 acre feet of Snake Valley water from the state. The water authority has already acquired from the state or purchased water rights in all the other basins involved in the pipeline plan.

The pipeline plans are currently undergoing an environmental review with the Bureau of Land Management, across whose land much of the pipeline would run.

The pipeline project is strongly contested by residents of the Snake Valley, environmental groups and parks enthusiasts who say it will drain and denude the valley, killing off all the plants and animals, running the ranchers off their land and create a giant dustbowl.

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