BLM Issues Impact Statement for Las Vegas Water Pipeline

(KCPW News)  Farmers in Utah’s Snake Valley could take a hit if the Federal Bureau of Land Management approves a pipeline right of way that’s expected to pump billions of gallons of water annually from four Nevada Valleys.

A final Environmental Impact Study was released Friday on the BLM’s preferred option, titled ‘Alternative F’ for a right of way that would allow the Southern Nevada Water Authority to pump water from Nevada’s Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delmar valleys to Las Vegas. This option excludes Snake Valley, which is located on the Utah & Nevada Border in the Central Great Basin. Great Basin Water Network Coordinator Susan Lynn says the decision comes as a temporary relief, but says in the long run, will mean less water for Snake Valley.

“The long term effects are still the drawdown of the water table, meaning lowering the water table in the valley because they will be pumping more in neighboring valley of Spring Valley,” says Lynn.  “And Spring Valley actually provides some water to Snake Valley. So by pumping more in Spring Valley it reduces the amount of water that will flow to Snake Valley.”

Lynn says Snake Valley residents rely heavily on their water source for agriculture as well as their daily water and sewer. She says the proposed plan could mean grave environmental effects to the Great Basin National Park and its wildlife refuges. Penny Woods, Groundwater Development Project Manager for the BLM, says the proposed project does show some impacts to Snake Valley on the Nevada side, but says the chosen alternative best fits the scope of the project.

“We felt like we had to at least have the analysis over what the state engineer ruled on. So what we did was under the preferred alternative, we selected F, but limited the amounts of water the state engineer allowed,” says Woods.

The proposed project is for the construction of 263 miles of water pipeline, which the Great Basin Water Network estimates will pump more than 37 billion gallons annually from the four Nevada Valleys. The BLM will issue a formal decision in October. The Great Basin Water Network says they will be seeking a “no action” alternative.