Gov. Gary Herbert announces water summit to help manage state's precious resource

Published: Wednesday, March 20 2013 5:25 p.m. MDT

The meetings follow discussions Herbert had this year with county officials from Tooele, Millard and Juab who are awaiting his decision on signing an agreement with Nevada over the sharing of water in Snake Valley.

A document that divvies up groundwater resources in Snake Valley between the two states has been in limbo for years. The valley straddles the border of both states and is a shared hydrologic basin.

While most of Snake Valley is within Utah borders, most of the precipitation that helps to replenish the groundwater falls in the mountains of Nevada and drains underground into Utah.

The Snake Valley groundwater controversy was stoked by the Southern Nevada Water Authority's desire to pump water within Nevada and convey it to Las Vegas via a pipeline.

Critics of the plan believe the water withdrawals are not sustainable and will compromise Utah's interests in the western desert region. SNWA has countered it has an obligation to develop water resources within Nevada to meet its future needs.

Matheson said Herbert has yet to reach a decision on signing the agreement and is still gathering information.

"He's trying to arrive at what is in the best long-term interests of Utah," Matheson said. "There's been a lot of misunderstanding about what the agreement does and does not do. The governor has been very clear that he prefer the pipeline not go in. It does not do anything for the residents of Utah."

Some proponents of signing the agreement have said it is preferable to have the water sharing and environmental protections in place and negotiated by the states rather than having a directive issued by a court.

E-mail: amyjoi@deseretnews.com, Twitter: amyjoi16

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