New hearings on efforts by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to tap into rural groundwater – even more than before – have begun again in Carson City.

Henry Brean reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that hearings began Sept. 25 and are expected to last about two weeks

During opening statements before State Engineer Jason King, the attorney for SNWS argued that “the agency could safely take even more groundwater than it was awarded in previous state rulings on the multibillion-dollar plan.”

At the same time, opponents of the efforts by SNWA said the agency should not be awarded more water, but less.

The article quoted Paul Hejmanowski, attorney for the LDS Church, which owns land in areas SNWA is interested in, specifically the Cleveland Ranch in White Pine County, as saying, “It’s going to be significantly less. Otherwise, you are groundwater mining, a practice prohibited by state law in which pumping exceeds a basin’s natural recharge. You are permanently depleting what our future generations need.”

Areas that would be affected by SNWA’s proposed pipeline, if awarded, would be about 27 billion gallons a year siphoned from Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar valleys in Lincoln County and Spring Valley in White Pine County. The expected pipeline would stretch at least 300 miles, take several years to build, and cost, at current prices, about $15 billion. The intention would be to help serve about 170,000 homes in the Las Vegas Valley by the year 2037.

In 2012, King granted SNWA up to 84,000 acre-feet of water annually from the four valleys mentioned. But that decision was later struck down in 2013 by District Judge Robert Estes and sent back to the state engineer for a rehearing.

The RJ article stated that opponents of the pipeline “hope to use the hearing to deal a fatal blow to the authority’s plans, which they insist will drain a large swath of arid eastern Nevada, destroying the landscape and the livelihoods of those who depend on it.”

Simon Herskovits, who represents many of those who officially challenged the authority’s initial flurry of rural groundwater filings in 1989, said, “The project is unsound and unsustainable.”