Latest: A setback for a Las Vegas pipeline

Judge tells BLM to redo plans for compensating for wildlife habitat that would be lost to massive groundwater project.

  • Big Spring in Snake Valley, where SNWA holds applications that still need approval by the Nevada State Engineer.

    Utah Geological Survey

Nevada has the smallest share of the Colorado River — just 300,000 acre-feet. As Las Vegas boomed in the 1990s, the Southern Nevada Water Authority proposed piping groundwater from eastern Nevada, home to several national wildlife refuges and a national park. The project, which would siphon up to 84,000 acre-feet annually, has spent more than a decade in court. Its projected cost has soared from $1.5 billion to at least $15.5 billion (“The water czar who reshaped Colorado River politics,” HCN, 3/2/15).

In late August, a federal court ruled on a lawsuit filed by environmentalists, tribes and local governments over the BLM’s granting of a right of way for the 250-plus-mile pipeline. The judge said the agency had fulfilled its duties “for the most part,” but needed to provide better plans for mitigating wildlife habitat lost to pipeline construction. A separate lawsuit challenges the amount of groundwater involved; the state engineer will take public comment until Oct. 20.

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