U.S. Water News Online
CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Water rights activists in Nevada and
Utah have raised questions about a plan to split up water rights in
Snake Valley, on the border between the two states, and in the
process help get more water to booming Las Vegas.
The Great Basin Water Network sent a letter to U.S. Senate
Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging him to seek a delay in a
pending compact between the two states that would apportion the water
rights in the valley, near Great Basin National Park.
Susan Lynn, executive director of the network, said more than 80
ranchers, Indians, environmentalists and others signed the letter,
which calls the agreement premature. The letter adds the compact
would "ease the way" for the Southern Nevada Water Authority to start
drawing on eastern Nevada water via a planned $2 billion pipeline to
The SNWA's current vice-chairman is Clark County Commission
Chairman Rory Reid, Sen. Reid's son.
The letter also states that the public was "largely excluded" from
discussions about the agreement until word of its existence was
leaked inadvertently on a government Web site.
The plan, which calls for a bistate agreement by Sept. 5, fails to
include comprehensive data on water availability, recharge and use,
and more time is needed to assess possible threats to 120-square-mile
Great Basin National Park, the letter states.
The letter also says that approving the agreement by Sept. 5 would
undercut scheduled Sept. 11 state hearings on one of the water
district's applications to pump more than 150,000 acre feet of water
from rural Nevada. A third of that water would come from the Snake
Reid said the proposed compact had been under discussion for a
long time, adding, "The sooner we do that, the better off Nevada will
Reid's office issued a follow-up statement that he had been given
"every assurance that this process will be thoughtful and
deliberative. While it is important for new water resources to be
developed, it is also essential that the natural resources of both
states are protected."
Reid also said he had talked to Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, about a
rider Bennett inserted into Reid's 2004 Lincoln County land use bill
that states Utah and Nevada must come to an agreement over shared
groundwater resources in the Snake Valley before the water
authority's project can start.
Pat Mulroy, the SNWA's general manager, has said the rider is
tantamount to a veto and is being used by opponents of the
water-pumping plan to scuttle the project.
Mike Styler, director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources,
has said Utah didn't see the rider as a veto. He said it was inserted
to assure Utah's interests in the Snake Valley basin were projected.
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