Concerns over a proposed water sharing agreement between Nevada and Utah have prompted a pair of meetings next week for residents to learn more about the draft Snake Valley Water Agreement.
The first meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 8, will be at 7 p.m. in the Millard County Fair Building, 187 S. Manzanita Ave., Delta. The Millard County Commission is hosting the meeting to air its opposition to the plan and detail its reason for disapproval.
A second meeting is being organized by the Utah Association of Counties with the assistance of the Great Basin Water Network, which also opposes the plan. It is Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. in room N 2003 of the Salt Lake County Government Center, 2001 S. State, Salt Lake City.
It, too, will be a forum to air why Millard County is opposed to the draft agreement, which it says disproportionately allocates water in Nevada's favor 7 to 1.
"Utah will create a dangerous precedent for other interstate water issues around the state by agreeing to such a grossly disproportionate split that ignores time-honored notions of relative historical use, relative irrigable land mass and relative intra-basin development," the position paper reads.
Under contention is the Southern Nevada Water Authority's application to tap water from the Snake Valley aquifer. The water would be piped for 285 miles to Las Vegas for residential use. Las Vegas wants to diversify its water supply, 90 percent of which comes from the Colorado River.
Snake Valley straddles the two states, and while the majority of the land is in Utah, the water authority contends the bulk of the water originates in Nevada mountains and hence is a shared resource.
A draft agreement on the water sharing was unveiled in mid-August after being penned by Utah and Nevada authorities. It is subject to public comment, with the commenting period ending Sept. 30, before it goes to both state governors for signature.
Numerous meetings have been held on the water sharing plan, which according to the Utah Department of Natural Resources, had received about 30 written comments as of Monday. The hope is to get those comments posted on the agency's Web site in the next couple of days.
Critics of the water sharing plan fear tapping the aquifer will drop the water table low enough that it will threaten a variety of land uses that been in place for decades, including crop and pasture irrigation, livestock grazing, dairy operations, and municipal and domestic water systems.
Additionally, they assert such pumping will compromise native vegetation, cause soil erosion and resulting dust storms will spread far enough to swamp the Wasatch Front with pollutants.
The draft agreement would put the water authority's application for water in limbo for 10 years to give time for scientists with multiple agencies to conduct studies on the potential impacts of the pipeline project.
A copy of the draft agreement can be found at www.waterrights.utah.gov.
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