(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)
Last week we reported on the impending signing of the Snake Water Valley Agreement by Utah’s Governer Herbert. The agreement would have given the go-ahead for a multi-billion dollar pipeline that would have allowed 50,000 acre-feet to be drawn from the Snake Valley Aquifer.
It now appears that Nevada’s Supreme Court ruling on the matter has stopped the signing of this agreement in its tracks
“This ruling significantly changes the landscape upon which our ongoing discussions have been based,” Herbert said. “It allows us to revisit the proposed agreement with the state of Nevada and ensure that our continued desire to protect Utah’s water interests and the environment is met.”
“This is a very important decision and a home run for the public,” said Great Basin Water Network coordinator Rose Strickland. “The Supreme Court followed the Nevada water law. If we follow the law and the science, there will be no misguided pipeline threatening the environment and economies of rural Nevada and Utah.”
Salt Lake Mayor Peter Corroon, candidate for Governor of Utah, is also opposed to the water agreement.
“Salt Lake County appreciates that Gov. Herbert has decided to postpone signing the currently proposed deal,” Corroon said. “In a state where water is at such an extreme premium, we need to protect it as much as possible.”
and here is what the editors of the Salt Lake Tribune have to say about it:
Now a lower court must decide whether the Southern Nevada Water Authority must file new groundwater applications or the state engineer must reopen the protest period. We presume that in either case, interested parties in Utah, including residents of Snake Valley, will have an opportunity to be heard by the Nevada state engineer.
We hope that this would lead to renewed scientific study of the aquifers beneath Snake Valley and others in this region. Experts suspect that withdrawing 50,000 acre-feet of water from beneath that valley, the amount SNWA has asked, would be unsustainable and could turn it and the neighboring valleys into a dustbowl.
Until this process plays out, Utah should not sign any agreement with Nevada.
Just because there is a delay in this agreement doesn’t mean it’s dead. There is still much work to be done. There are ways that citizens can get involved and have their voices heard. The Great Basin Water Network is a good place to start. The bottom line is to:stay engaged by
writing letters to the editor of your local newspapers, attend public hearings, comment on federal, state and local actions. Be an advocate for wise water use.