Petitions challenge water pipeline

A plan to pipe groundwater to Las Vegas from eastern Nevada has drawn its first legal challenge since state regulators began approving portions of the project last year.

Pipeline opponents filed petitions in two rural courts late this week requesting a judicial review of the most recent decision granting water for the massive Southern Nevada Water Authority pipeline.

On July 9, State Engineer Tracy Taylor issued a ruling that clears the way for the authority to pump more than 6 billion gallons of groundwater a year from three watersheds in Lincoln County. When stretched through reuse, the water from Cave, Delamar and Dry Lake valleys could supply almost 64,000 Las Vegas homes.

But in a petition filed Friday in Ely, opponents argue that Taylor dramatically overestimated how much water could be safely withdrawn from the mostly empty valleys and underestimated how much water should be held in reserve to supply future development there.

Speaking on behalf of the petitioners, Bob Fulkerson said the decision was made to seek a judicial review because “the issues on these valleys were so stark and cried out for relief.”

“We’ve pledged to fight this with every tool at our disposal,” said Fulkerson, who is executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada and a member of the Great Basin Water Network, two groups that oppose the water grab.

A similar petition, filed Thursday in Pioche on behalf of a ranching operation in Lincoln County, specifically challenges the portion of Taylor’s ruling concerning Cave Valley.

Susan Joseph-Taylor, chief hearing officer for the Nevada Division of Water Resources, said the court “might try to consolidate” the separate review requests so they can be heard at the same time.

Water authority spokesman J.C. Davis said agency officials couldn’t comment on the petitions Friday afternoon because they had yet to see them.

Under state law, anyone directly impacted by a water transfer can petition to have a ruling by the state engineer reviewed by a district judge. Joseph-Taylor said “whoever is unhappy” with the outcome of the review can appeal it to the Nevada Supreme Court.

“The state engineer is very often upheld, because the standard is the court can’t reweigh the evidence of record from the hearing,” Joseph-Taylor said.

In other words, no new arguments about the pipeline project will be heard during the judicial review. If the engineer’s decision is supported by the evidence already on record, the court will most likely back his ruling, Joseph-Taylor said.

The petitions filed this week represent the first judicial reviews requested in connection with the authority’s pipeline project. Last year, Taylor granted the authority access to 13 billion gallons of groundwater a year in White Pine County’s Spring Valley, but that ruling drew no such legal challenge.

“In Spring Valley, the issues were not so bold,” Fulkerson explained. “We take these court actions very seriously, and we don’t want to file lawsuits every chance we get.”

By as early as 2013, the authority hopes to start pumping groundwater south through a pipeline that could stretch more than 250 miles and cost between $2 billion and $3.5 billion.

Authority officials see the project as a way to supply water for growth in the Las Vegas Valley and insulate the community from drought on the Colorado River, which provides 90 percent of the community’s drinking water.

Critics argue that large-scale groundwater pumping in the arid valleys of eastern Nevada threatens wildlife and the livelihoods of ranchers and farmers.

The state engineer’s next major hearing on the project is tentatively slated for this fall, when he will consider the authority’s applications for groundwater in Snake Valley, an aquifer that straddles the Nevada-Utah border in White Pine County.

On Tuesday, two Utah counties and several American Indian tribes filed suit in Ely to be included as “interested parties” in the Snake Valley hearing. Taylor previously rejected a request from those groups for interested party status.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350.

News Videos
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Mylar Balloon Demo
NV Energy presented a demonstration Wednesday to depict the damage that can be caused by the release of Mylar balloons.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
Home Front Page Footer Listing