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April 18, 2014

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Coalition opposed to Water Authority’s pipeline project wants more time for public input

A coalition opposing Southern Nevada's water pipeline is asking for more time to state its case against the project.

The Bureau of Land Management has so far refused the Great Basin Water Network's request to extend the Sept. 9 deadline for comments on the 236 mile pipeline project, which would allow Southern Nevada to tap water in rural Nevada.

The federal agency Wednesday scheduled nine hearings in Nevada and Utah on the Southern Nevada Water Authority's plans. The hearing in Clark County is set for Aug. 15 at 4 p.m. at the Henderson Convention Center.

The Great Basin Water Network, a coalition of ranchers, rural residents, conservationists, tribes and local governments asked the deadline for comments be extended 180 days. And it suggested additional hearings be held in Cedar City, St. George and Tooele, Utah. The BLM has rejected that request.

Steve Erickson, spokesman for the network, said these hearings "are the best opportunity for the public to weigh-in on the impact of this massive boondoggle of a water grab."

The Water Authority believes there is enough water in the four valleys in White Pine and Lincoln Counties to supply up to 125,976 acre feet of water a year.

The BLM says the project would remove about 20,570 acres of native wildlife habitats from the valleys which is less than 1 percent of the total area. The federal agency says there is a threatened loss of desert tortoise and Gila monster habitat.

The project would convert 6,550 acres now used for livestock grazing and wildlife habitat to industry use.

Nevada's state engineer is to hold hearings beginning Sept. 26 on the application by the Water Authority to withdraw 125,976 feet of water a year from the valleys of Delamar, Spring, Cave and Dry Lake.

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