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Nevada's Water Grab



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A new study by the U.S. Geologic Survey into vast aquifers near the Utah-Nevada border raises more questions than it answers about the wisdom of piping precious ground water 240 miles south to thirsty Las Vegas. The uncertainty of the pipeline's ecological impact should be enough to keep Utah leaders from signing off on the project.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority, which is promoting the project, eventually wants to divert 200,000 acre feet of water annually to Las Vegas.

On one hand, the study reveals more ground water than previously thought can be found in the aquifers. That, certainly, is positive news. But, the study also showed that much of the subsurface water flows into and replenishes a vital aquifer on the Utah side of the border. The aquifers in the two states, according to the study, are more connected than believed earlier. So whose water is it? And beyond the issue of water rights, what would be the long-term impact of exporting the water on vegetation, wildlife and agriculture in Western Utah? So far, experts have failed to show exactly what will happen.

Unless it can be proven the pipeline plan won't adversely affect the state's fragile west desert ecosystem, not a drop of water stored naturally beneath Utah should be diverted to Las Vegas.

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