Nevada State Engineer Tracy Taylor on Wednesday denied 15 applications requesting "interested person" classifications on a controversial water issue along the Utah/Nevada border.

Taylor said in his ruling that a hearing next week on whether to allow the Southern Nevada Water Authority the right to pump ground water from the Snake Valley basin "is not a forum for anyone to comment on anything and expect the agency to respond." Neither, he added, did the 2007 Nevada Legislature vote to reopen the protest period on the issue.

Taylor stated that the interested person classification was not intended to provide a means for circumventing the statutory protest period. That means Utah applicants like Salt Lake and Utah counties and 13 other groups and individuals will not get a chance to speak at the hearing July 15.

Also on Wednesday, Taylor granted the water authority permission seek out up to 18,755 acre-feet annually from sources in the Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys. Previously Taylor has given the go ahead for SNWA to eventually pump up to 40,000 acre-feet of water from the Spring Valley basin.

All of the water being sought on the Nevada side of the border is being earmarked for distribution to the Las Vegas area but proposals for actually pumping in the designated areas still require a lengthy approval process that could take years. Those in opposition to piping water from sources along the border say those efforts could dramatically impact the environment and water users on the Utah side who for decades have been exercising their rights to shared sources along the border.

Taylor said use of the water in the amounts he approved "will not unduly limit future growth and development" in the three valleys, all in central Lincoln County.

But before any water is pumped, Taylor wants to see more biological and hydrologic studies. He also said that pumping will be halted or modified if it proves "detrimental to the public interest or is found to not be environmentally sound."

Contributing: Associated Press

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