Matt Jenkins' article updating the Southern Nevada Water Authority's (SNWA's) pipeline project unfortunately promulgated some myths which SNWA has been pushing in Nevada and Utah (HCN, 10/12/09).
Jenkins did hit the target when he linked the negotiations over the Nevada/Utah shared water agreement with the proposed Lake Powell pipeline to St. George. It was the elephant at the bi-state talks, but state officials denied the political links. Its unspoken presence helps to explain the hugely inequitable division proposed in the draft agreement which favors Nevada over Utah.
But as I read the rest of the article, I wondered if Jenkins had joined the ranks of those who have been "Mulroyed."
(1.) The Utah/Nevada Agreement has not been signed and is not a done deal. It is a draft agreement which has received serious and widespread public criticism
(2.) SNWA may have neutralized the federal agencies in some valleys, but please read their comments on the Utah/Nevada Agreement: http://bit.ly/2nrVhw.
(3.) SNWA has no water rights approved by the state engineer in Snake Valley. If the Utah/Nevada Agreement is signed, no hearings will be held on those SNWA Snake Valley applications until the fall of 2019. If the agreement isn't signed, the state engineer may hold hearings in September 2011. Finally, if either of the states or SNWA chooses to change the agreement, the hearings could come at any time.
(4.) Jenkins doesn't mention that SNWA helped to create the artificial crisis of falling Lake Mead levels by agreeing to allow Colorado River water to be used to raise levels in Lake Powell. SNWA conveniently forgets that the Mead water elevation is not the trigger for this pipeline project. The BLM's Record of Decision on the pipeline EIS and the Nevada state engineer will trip the triggers. Not all permits are secure yet. And of course, legal battles are likely to slow things.
No one says that Pat Mulroy isn't smart and doesn't have political connections, but with the economic forecasts still gloomy for Las Vegas, the growing criticism of this expensive but risky proposal, and the science just beginning to come in, there are serious questions about the future of this project. To any person in the central Great Basin with knowledge of local creeks, springs, wet meadows and existing groundwater wells, this project is a very costly "pipedream."
Susan Lynn, coordinator
Great Basin Water Network