U.S. Water News Online
LAS VEGAS -- Drought has Southern Nevada's regional water
authority scouting for new supplies and considering a $1 billion-plus
pipeline that would be the area's largest public works project since
the Hoover Dam.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is looking to the rugged
desert landscape north of Las Vegas, with officials predicting more
than a million people might one day be served by water from the Muddy
and Virgin rivers and the mountains and valleys of southeast Nevada.
Tapping that supply would require environmental approvals,
cooperation with the affected counties and the go-ahead from the
Nevada state engineer, who is responsible for ensuring new wells do
not threaten existing groundwater supplies.
It might also require a pipeline from the Virgin River, a massive
project the water authority began studying last summer.
``Because of the drought, we are accelerating, big time, the
evaluation of our options,'' said Kay Brothers, water authority
deputy general manager. ``We're looking at these things. The
environmental permitting of this is going to be a huge issue.''
The first relatively small step is under way. The water authority
has drilled a test well in Coyote Springs, site of a proposed
community on the Clark-Lincoln County line, to comply with an order
from State Engineer Hugh Ricci.
The test pumping is expected to produce about 10,000 acre feet of
water a year -- enough for a similar number of families, or about
If the test well shows water can be pumped from the ground for at
least two years without harming the environment or existing wells in
the region, then Ricci could allow the new pumps to become permanent.
Until then, the 10,000 acre feet will go to the Moapa Valley Water
District system. Drilling the test wells and constructing the short
pipeline from Coyote Springs to the Moapa Valley Water District
system will cost an estimated $33 million, Brothers said.
That project should go to bid in May. Brothers said the water
authority hopes to be able to pipe about 36,000 acre feet of water a
year to Las Vegas by about 2011.
The region now consumes about 300,000 acre feet of water a year,
almost all of it from Lake Mead, the reservoir formed by Hoover Dam.
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