BLM should expand public-comment period on Las Vegas water plan

Posted: Jun 21, 2011

Written by

The Salt Lake Tribune

Las Vegas wants to pump ground water out of counties to its north and send it to Sin City through 306 miles of pipelines. Utah has a dog in this fight because plummeting water tables in Nevada could cause vegetation to die, sending dust clouds roaring into the Wasatch Front. Sucking 177,000 acre-feet of water a year out of the Great Basin aquifer would damage plant and animal life across the west desert, particularly in Snake Valley, which straddles the state line. That amount, by the way, is roughly half the capacity of Jordanelle Reservoir.

Anything that would compound drought in the Great Basin is a bad idea. But how bad is debatable.
Officials in Nevada are evaluating petitions by Las Vegas water authorities for ground water rights in the northern counties. In the meantime, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has issued a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed project’s effects on federal lands. It’s a sobering document.

The study estimates that the project would add 24,122 tons of windblown dust a year into the air during the project’s first 75 years. Obviously, it would take a certain amount of time before the impacts of massive ground water pumping would be seen.

Comment on the water plan.


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