SALT LAKE CITY — Opponents of a plan to pipe water from a desert aquifer that lies mostly in Utah to Las Vegas will hold citizens’ hearings on the issue this week in Delta and Salt Lake City.
Millard County, the Utah Association of Counties and the advocacy group Great Basin Water Network have organized the hearings, citing dissatisfaction over the way state officials are handling a proposed agreement to pump Snake Valley water nearly 300 miles to Las Vegas.
Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, and Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, have said they expect to sign the agreement by mid-October.
The deal would hold off the Nevada state engineer’s ruling on the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s 20-year application for water rights in Snake Valley, and would require hydrologic and environmental studies before it could take effect in 2019.
Critics say the agreement would give most of the unallocated water to Las Vegas at Utah’s expense, and the hearings will allow the public a chance to comment on it.
Comments will be recorded and sent to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who along with Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons would have to give their permission before Styler and Biaggi could sign the proposal.
Great Basin Water Network spokesman Steve Erickson criticized four state-sponsored public hearings on the proposal in Utah and Nevada last month, saying the public was only allowed to ask questions.
“I really don’t want this to be like their meetings, where they dominated everything,” he said.
“We’re going to accept oral comments and get them to the governor one way or the other.”
The Delta hearing begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, while the Salt Lake City hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.