News Feature | August 31, 2017

Massive Las Vegas Pipeline Plan Needs More Work

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

vegas reg new

A controversial proposal for a massive pipeline to bring water to Las Vegas has hit some turbulence.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon ordered fixes to the environmental impact statements for the plan, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“The federal Bureau of Land Management needs to take another look at possible environmental effects of the Southern Nevada Water Authority project and identify what can be done about them,” the report said, paraphrasing Gordon.

Backers must address "whether the project will meet Clean Water Act requirements" and "whether it will be possible to replace or restore remote wetlands” after groundwater pumping begins, the report said.

The big picture, though, is that the judge "ruled in favor of the Southern Nevada Water Authority's plan to tap groundwater in eastern Nevada," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The ruling upholds the Bureau of Land Management decision, four years ago, to grant the right of way for the project, a "300 mile network of pumps and pipes," the report said.

Proponents frame the pipeline as "modest investment in water resources for considerable economic returns that benefit Nevada as a whole," according to KTNV.

The project has garnered significant opposition in the environmental community.

“A coalition of local governments, tribes and environmental groups in Nevada and Utah filed suit in 2014 accusing the BLM and the Interior Department of ignoring environmental laws and tribal trust obligations in their review of the pipeline. The water authority joined the government’s side of the case in April 2014,” the report said.

Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, spoke to concerns about the proposal. His organization has pushed back in court.

"Their plan to drain ancient aquifers left by the last ice age would cause significant and catastrophic changes across a section of central Nevada the size of Vermont," he said, per KTNV.

To read about similar projects visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Las Vegas Strip" Kerr © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/