The Nevada State Engineer in Carson City, Nev., has held multiple hearings since September about the proposal by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to build a 285-mile long pipeline. The water would come from aquifers in eastern Nevada that feeds springs throughout the area as well as parts of western Utah.
The state engineer is reviewing the applications, and concluded the hearings Friday. A decision is not expected for about six months.
The LDS Church owns a ranch in the White Pine County area known as Spring Valley, said attorney Paul R. Hejmanowski, who represents the church. If the project is approved, it will dry up the water resources in the valley and potentially introduce cheat grass, which is considered an invasive species.
“It’s the cotton candy of good intentions with nothing good at its core,” Hejmanowski said in a story reported by the Deseret News.
Water authority attorney Paul Taggart said southern Nevada needs the water because of continued growth, and the authority can’t rely on the Colorado River for its future water supplies.
The proposal isn’t unusual, Taggart said.
“Cities in America get their water from other places,” he said.
The aquifers will not be sucked dry despite what critics continue to warn will happen, Taggart said.
“It is clear this project will be environmentally sound,” he said, adding that opponents represent a “very small vocal minority.”
The project has also been criticized by Utah officials, who are concerned that the water loss will significantly harm the Snake Valley. Although that valley is in Utah, the water comes from mountains in Nevada.
State officials and Salt Lake County leaders have previously submitted comments to the Bureau of Land Management — which is currently reviewing the environmental impacts of the proposal — cautioning that a loss of water in the region could lead to increased pollution from blowing dust.
Don Anderson, who lives in Eskdale, Utah, said the pipeline would essentially wipe out a farming tradition established by Mormon pioneers more than a century ago.
“It’s not just business, it’s personal,” he said, speaking of the livelihood of those who live in the area. “You can do the wrong thing the best way possible and still do the wrong thing.”