Ranch owner and water authority settle challenge of pumping plan

Las Vegas water officials have reached a settlement with a Lincoln County ranch company that challenged plans to siphon groundwater from across eastern Nevada.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority will pay Cave Valley Ranch a little more than $4 million and supply it with some water rights under a deal approved by board members on Thursday.

In exchange, the settlement calls for the ranch company to relinquish ownership of at least 1,500 acres for a conservation easement to “help preserve natural resources and benefit wildlife.”

The ranch also will drop its court challenge of a 2008 state ruling that granted the authority permission to pump more than 6 billion gallons of groundwater a year from Cave Valley and two other watersheds in Lincoln County.

At the same time, the ranch’s owners will withdraw from a case before the Nevada Supreme Court over whether property owners deserved a larger role in the state hearing on the authority’s groundwater applications in Lincoln County.

The water authority board approved the settlement in a unanimous vote with no discussion.

It still must be signed by owners of the 3,280 acre ranch, something authority officials expect to happen within weeks.

The Las Vegas attorney who represents Cave Valley Ranch could not be reached for comment.

Water authority General Counsel Charles Hauser said the settlement is not an acknowledgement of liability or potential harm that could stem from the proposed groundwater development project.

Nor does it set precedent for future deals of its kind, Hauser said. “We think this is a unique circumstance in this valley.”

Deputy Counsel John Entsminger said the water authority is simply choosing the “certainty of the settlement” over the uncertainty of what might happen in court.

But one pipeline opponent called the settlement another big-money deal by an agency that will spare no expense to silence its critics.

Launce Rake, spokesman for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said he can’t blame Cave Valley Ranch for choosing to settle rather than fight a powerful agency with “limitless financial resources.”

But, as far as Rake is concerned, “it is absolutely a payoff.”

“It’s a continuation of the buy-’em-out strategy they’ve demonstrated in Spring Valley,” Rake said of water authority officials. “Of course (the pipeline) is going to hurt the environment. They’re trying to minimize the number of eyes who are there to watch the impacts.”

Comments like that come as no surprise to water authority General Manager Pat Mulroy. She said she expects pipeline opponents to react negatively to “any settlement,” because what they want is a long, ugly court battle.

“Anything that takes litigation out of circulation is going to be denounced by them,” she said.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority owns a lot of land in Spring Valley. Since 2006, it has bought seven ranches and more than 23,000 acres in the White Pine County watershed considered the “anchor basin” for the groundwater project.

But the authority isn’t buying Cave Valley Ranch. The only property that will change hands is the roughly 1,500-acre conservation easement. The property will be deeded over to the authority, but the ranch will retain the right to graze cattle and grow crops on it for the next 20 years.

Eventually, the easement likely will be turned over to be managed by the Nature Conservancy, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or a similar conservation group, Entsminger said.

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

Authority officials say the project is needed to insulate Southern Nevada from drought on the Colorado River, which supplies 90 percent of the area’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.

Cave, Delamar and Dry Lake valleys comprise the first phase of the pipeline project. The water the authority plans to tap there could supply more than 37,000 Las Vegas homes.

Nearly all the land in the three basins is managed by the federal government, and almost none of it is inhabited by people.

Entsminger said Cave Valley Ranch owns the only sizeable block of private land in the area.

Mulroy said the rest of it “belongs to the coyotes and the rattlesnakes.”

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.�

ad-high_impact_4
News
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Navigating the new I-515 southbound to 215 Beltway ramp configuration
After opening at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, the new Interstate 515 southbound to the 215 Beltway westbound freeway ramp configuration caused confusion amongst motorist. Here’s how to navigate the new ramp. (Mick Akers/ Las Vegas Review-Journal).
A record breaking donation of nearly $9 million to Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada
A record breaking donation of property valued at nearly $9 million was made to the Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada by the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal. @bizutesfaye
Kerry Clasby thanks the community for support after California fire damage
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about the lessons of accepting help as she has gone through the Woolsey Fire disaster, in which she lost many of her belongings. About 100 people were on hand for an event that raised about $7,000.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like