Lincoln County has long been concerned about efforts by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to be allowed to pump water from underground sources in Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar Valleys.

County residents have also voiced opposition to SNWA building a huge 300-mile long pipeline through parts of Lincoln and White Pine Counties to carry the water to Las Vegas.

As recently reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “the Nevada Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal of a lower court ruling that effectively stripped the Southern Nevada of water rights for its controversial pipeline from eastern Nevada.”

The ruling, issued Feb. 6, stated the State Supreme Court, considered a 2013 ruling by Senior District Judge Robert Estes that blocked efforts to put wells in the four valleys, was not subject to appeal.

At the time, Estes said State Water Engineer Jason King had failed to adequately provide sufficient support for granting the drilling permits.

This will have a pleasing effect on many in Lincoln County as well, even though the County does have an agreement with SNWA made in 2002 or 2003.

County Water District Manager Wade Poulsen said, at the time, County Commissioners worked out a long term agreement that SNWA would give back to the County a certain percentage of the applications on the upwards of 200,000 acre feet of water they had filed for in 1989, in addition to withdrawing all of their applications in Pahranagat Valley and Dry Valley, the two main water sources in Lincoln County.

In return, Poulsen said, “Lincoln County agreed not to protest or hinder SNWA’s efforts.” But many residents were fiercely opposed to the plan anyway.

Poulsen said Estes’ 2013 ruling noted “the state water engineer had not adequately defined, and needs to do so, what the mitigation process and the monitoring process will be to prove the wells would not drain the targeted basins and cause problems for other water rights holders in those valley’s and other places.”
SNWA appealed the judge’s ruling and it went to the state Supreme Court. Poulsen said the Supreme has now dismissed the appeal, effectively saying Judge Estes’ ruling stands.

Since 1989, SNWA has been trying go forward with plans to develop wells in rural eastern Nevada, even as far away as Great Basin National Park, and build a pipeline, at an estimated cost of $15 billion, to bring billions of gallons of water annually to be used for continued growth in the Las Vegas Valley.

Many critics and groups, including rural residents, Native American tribes, ranchers, the N4 Grazing Board, conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts and others have voiced strong opposition to the plan.

If ever granted, the pipeline project could take up to 15 years to complete, although water might be flowing to Las Vegas after about five years work.