86°F
weather icon Clear

Appeals pour in over ruling against Las Vegas pipe water plan

Updated September 19, 2018 - 8:02 am

The appeals are piling up over a recent state decision blocking the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to pipe groundwater from Eastern Nevada.

Four days after water authority board members approved a court challenge of State Engineer Jason King’s Aug. 17 ruling, opponents of the controversial pipeline project launched an appeal of their own targeting a specific part of last month’s decision.

Though pipeline opponents celebrated King’s ruling as a whole, their appeal takes aim at his decision to uphold the authority’s proposed monitoring, management and mitigation plan for the massive groundwater project. Critics argue the so-called “3M plan” offers only token compensation for existing water rights holders while allowing springs, wells and wetlands to be pumped dry in Lincoln and White Pine counties.

A coalition of 59 organizations and individuals led by White Pine County and the Great Basin Water Network filed a petition for judicial review Monday in District Court in Ely.

“Earlier iterations of the 3M plan were struck down by Nevada courts, and the small changes made this time leave it no less deficient,” the coalition’s attorney, Simeon Herskovits, said in a written statement.

Separate appeals have been filed on similar grounds by three tribal organizations, two Utah counties and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which operates a cattle ranch in one of the four valleys targeted by the water authority.

The authority’s appeal, filed with the Ely court on Friday, focuses on King’s larger decision to deny its applications to pump billions of gallons groundwater a year.

King made it clear in his 111-page ruling that he didn’t want to deny the authority’s applications, but his hand was forced by a 2013 court ruling that restricted his review of the pipeline project.

“Although the state engineer believes there is water to appropriate in the four subject groundwater basins, he is precluded from doing so” by the court, King wrote last month.

Rather than appeal his own ruling, King is expected to argue against the court directives from 2013 as part of the appeals process launched by the authority and others.

Senior District Judge Robert Estes, the same judge who presided over the case in 2013, is slated to hear the appeals.

Las Vegas water officials have been pushing plans to pipe in groundwater from up to 300 miles away since 1989. The authority is counting on the multibillion-dollar project to supply at least 170,000 homes, though the agency does not expect to need the water for at least 15 to 20 years.

For more than a decade, the project has bounced between the state engineer’s office and the courts, as the authority seeks the approvals it needs to begin construction.

Regardless of how Estes rules this time around, the matter is likely headed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST