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Hearing set on agency’s groundwater request

CARSON CITY — A hearing on a request by Las Vegas water officials to pump groundwater from several basins in rural Nevada has been scheduled to begin Feb. 4 by the state engineer.

An order and notice detailing how the hearing process will proceed was issued by the state agency.

The requests, which have been protested by a number of individuals and groups, are for groundwater from Cave Valley, Dry Lake Valley and Delamar Valley.

The groundwater is being sought by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to help quench the thirst of a growing Las Vegas.

The agency wants to tap more than 11.3 billion gallons of groundwater — about 34,000 acre-feet — a year from the three valleys. An acre-foot is 326,000 gallons, almost enough to serve two households for a year.

The applications are part of a $2 billion-plus project to pipe water across the desert to Las Vegas.

They are being opposed by, among others, some farmers and ranchers who fear they could lose their groundwater supplies and thus their livelihood.

Delamar, Dry Lake and Cave valleys are in central Lincoln County, which initially opposed the plan but reached an agreement with the water authority that states which groundwater basins can be developed.

The agreement also allows use of the pipeline, for a price, by the county.

In April, State Engineer Tracy Taylor granted the water authority, in a separate application, the right to pump at least 13 billion gallons of groundwater a year from Spring Valley, located in White Pine County at the north end of the proposed pipeline.

The Spring Valley amount approved for the first 10 years of pumping was less than half what the water authority requested, but it could be increased if there are no adverse effects from the initial pumping.

The water authority’s eventual goal is to tap into enough water in rural Nevada to serve more than 230,000 homes, in addition to about 400,000 households already getting the agency’s water in the Las Vegas area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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