Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2014

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State to restart process of Las Vegas water applications

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Sam Morris

Fishermen enjoy an outing on Comins Lake, about 10 miles south of Ely in White Pine County. Opponents of Las Vegas’ ground water pumping plan fear lakes such as Comins could ultimately dry up.

CARSON CITY – The process for applications filed in 1989 by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to pump more than 120,000 acre feet of water from rural Nevada to Las Vegas will start all over again.

Reacting to a ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court, state engineer Jason King said public notice will be given by publication of the applications for taking water from four valleys. The public then will have a chance to lodge protests.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority will have to bear the cost of publishing the applications. King said he expects hundreds of protests for the water being sought from the Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys in eastern Nevada.

This publication process will take about two months, then hearings will be scheduled.

The water authority asked for about 90,000 acre feet from Spring Valley but former state engineer Tracy Taylor granted 40,000 acre feet. If the authority met certain conditions, the amount could increase to 60,000 acre feet.

An acre foot is 325,851 gallons. Las Vegas sought the amount while it was growing rapidly, but the population increase has slowed significantly.

The authority originally sought 34,752 acre feet from the Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys. The former engineer granted 18,755 acre feet.

King said anyone who wants to protest the applications in those four valleys must file new protests. Protests lodged against the original 1989 application don't have to be refiled.

King said his initial plan is to process two separate cases – one for Spring Valley and a second for the other valleys.

The Supreme Court ruled Taylor violated the law when he failed to approve the Spring Valley application from the water authority within one year. The court said the state must "re-notice" the applications and reopen the protest period.

King said no further actions is required on the water rights issued to the water authority in Hidden Valley, Garnet Valley, California Wash, Tikapoo and Three Lakes Valleys.

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