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Thirsty Las Vegas

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Southern Nevada’s unquenchable thirst for more water has led to a proposal to build a network of pipelines to deliver groundwater from the Ely area, some 240 miles south to Las Vegas. Utahns should be concerned since the aquifers they’re proposing tapping into extend across the Nevada border into our state. It’s possible the drawdown of underground water resources would adversely affect springs, surface and groundwater uses in western Utah.

In KSL’s view a lot of questions need to be asked and answered before the project proceeds. It is why a series of hearings this week in Utah deserve the fullest attention of water experts and the public. Tonight, there is a hearing in Salt Lake, tomorrow in Cedar City and Wednesday in Delta.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is seeking BLM approval to build the $2 billion pipeline. That’s what the hearings are about. Then, as the pipeline approval process proceeds, the Water Authority plans to deal more specifically with water rights issues.

KSL thinks they’re putting the cart before the horse. Now, not later, is the time to explore whether thirsty Las Vegas has any right to underground water in Utah. In our view, that is the issue that needs to be resolved long before serious consideration is given to building a pipeline across the desert.

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