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Snake Valley Water

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A Nevada judge's recent ruling over water rights in the Silver State has dramatically altered the dynamics of the debate over a proposal to build a 285-mile pipeline to pump water to Las Vegas from an aquifer straddling the Utah-Nevada border.

Because of the ruling, Utah needs to reassess its negotiating position with Nevada water officials. Indeed, now is not the time to sign a water allocation agreement reached earlier this year between the two states, and which KSL has supported.

The judge ruled that the Nevada State Engineer "abused his discretion" when he approved applications for water rights in three valleys on the Nevada side of the border. The Snake Valley aquifer, which sits partially in Utah, wasn't mentioned by the judge, but experts say the ruling impacts plans to tap into the valley's aquifer. As expected, the Southern Nevada Water Association has said it will appeal the judge's ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Meantime, and in view of the many variables involved, KSL believes negotiations with Nevada over Snake Valley water should not be summarily suspended, as some are suggesting. Rather, it is best to keep talking even though a formal agreement with Nevada over allocation of the precious underground water is on hold.

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