SALT LAKE CITY — Several protest workshops have been scheduled to craft opposition to a controversial Nevada pipeline.
Organized and hosted by the Great Basin Water Network, the workshops are being held to guide opponents in filing official protests to more than 100 water-right applications being sought by Southern Nevada Water Authority.
Such protests have been jump-started in the wake of a January decision by the Nevada Supreme Court that tossed previous applications granted by the Nevada state water engineer, saying the process had been arbitrary and lacked the necessary considerations of long-term impacts.
A primary drive of the workshops is to solicit opposition to applications to water rights that are being sought in Utah's portion of Snake Valley, which straddles the two states.
The water authority has sought rights to the water in more than 130 wells in the Great Basin region in support of a pipeline it wants to construct.
A 285-mile pipeline would convey up to 50,000 acre feet of water per year at a cost of $3.5 billion for municipal and industrial use in Las Vegas and surrounding communities.
Critics fear that a draw-down on the water table could not happen without drastic environmental impacts to the area and without jeopardizing current water rights that sustain the sparsely populated area and industries such as ranching and farming.
The water authority has countered that it has the right to tap those wells because the water originates in the mountains of Nevada, traveling east to Utah. State officials also drafted an agreement that includes environmental protections and a way to mitigate impacts suffered by Utah water users. That agreement is on now on hold.
Network spokesman Steve Erickson said the organization has thrown its efforts behind soliciting comments for the protest period, which ends April 23 for Snake Valley. Each protest of a well costs $25, and the network, which is planning to file protests on each application, will spend between $3,000 and $4,000 in filing fees, Erickson said. In addition, the organization has posted a variety of documents related to the protest on its Web site at www.greatbasinwaternetwork.net.
Pipeline protest workshops:
Today, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Panaca Community Center, Panaca, Nev.
Monday, April, 12, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., High Road to Human Rights, 438 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City