U.S. Water News Online
CARSON CITY, Nev. -- A state engineer's decision on Coyote
Springs Valley could slow a powerful lobbyist's development plans and
thwart efforts by Las Vegas to get water from the valley.
Hugh Ricci says no new water rights will be issued in Coyote
Springs Valley for at least five years, although those with existing
rights can begin pumping water in the area about 50 miles north of
A study will be made over the next five years to see if drawing
the 50,465 acre feet already claimed will hurt the environment or
other water rights.
The decision allows lobbyist and developer Harvey Whittemore to
start the initial phases of his proposed golf course community in the
valley that straddles the Clark-Nye County line.
But without more water, Whittemore, who already owns rights to
6,100 acre-feet in Coyote Springs, may have to scale back his plans.
The developer had sought an additional 16,000 acre-feet to build a
community of 50,000 homes.
An acre foot is enough to supply a family of four for a year.
The decision also dampens plans by the Las Vegas Valley Water
District to draw 27,500 acre-feet from the Coyote Springs Basin; and
delays an agreement between Whittemore, the Water District, the
Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Moapa Valley Water District
that set ratios on how much water each would get from the Coyote
Ricci noted little solid information exists on the amount of water
in the area's deep carbonate aquifers, and he wants more data before
allowing additional pumping.
Environmentalists praised the decision as a way to ensure future
water decisions in the valley are based on science.
John Hiatt, conservation chairman of the Red Rock Audubon Society,
called the Ricci ruling ``great news,'' though he would have rather
seen the applications denied.
The Red Rock Audubon Society had protested the application, as did
the Sierra Club and the federal government.
Whittemore said Ricci's decision was expected.
``We have always advocated a go-slow approach,'' he said.
Whittemore said he could still proceed with the initial phases of
his development in 12 to 18 months, which include 2,000 homes.
Besides the 5,000 acre-feet of water he will retain, Whittemore said
he has 8,600 acre-feet for temporary use from the Las Vegas Valley
Vince Alberta, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Valley Water
District, called the decision responsible.
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