Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

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Supreme Court OKs $4 million water rights settlement

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court has approved a settlement in which the Southern Nevada Water Authority will pay $4 million to a developer in Eastern Nevada to drop his suit in the dispute over 18,755 acre feet of water.

The water authority, Cave Valley Ranch and State Engineer Tracy Taylor have reached an agreement to drop all appeals and cross appeals to the Supreme Court.

But there is still another appeal before the Supreme Court by other residents of Eastern Nevada challenging the ruling of Taylor to grant the water authority the rights to the water.

Cave Rock Ranch has plans for 938 lots of five acres in valleys in eastern Nevada. It won a ruling from Senior District Judge Norman Robison that the decision by the state engineer was “arbitrary, oppressive and a manifest abuse of discretion.”

The judge ordered the case back to the office of Taylor for further consideration. Both the water authority and the state filed notices of appeal to the Supreme Court. But the board of directors of the water authority agreed last month to reach a settlement to avoid further legal costs.

Chief Justice James Hardesty agreed Friday to the stipulation by all parties and dismissed the appeal and cross appeals.

Paul Taggart, a Carson City attorney representing the water authority, said the second appeal is before the Supreme Court by the second group of protesters. He said he is going to ask the court to speed up the handling of the case.

The applications by the water authority were filed in 1989 to pipe water from Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys to serve the growing population in Southern Nevada. An acre foot of water is equivalent to 325,851 gallons.

Scott Huntley, public information manager for the water authority, said this proposed project is only to serve as a backup to the water supply in Lake Mead. If there is a shortage from Lake Mead, this proposed pipeline would supply the needed water.

The water authority is digging a third water intake valve at Lake Mead in case the water level drops below the first two. A 23-foot tall tunnel is being drilled through three miles of bedrock and it could take 23 months to complete.

The project is expected to cost $700 million to keep water flowing to Las Vegas in drought years on the Colorado River which gets its supply from the Rocky Mountains.

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