The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced its approval Thursday for a 300-mile pipeline from the interior valleys of the Great Basin to Las Vegas. The pipeline would be used to carry more than 84,000 acre-feet of water pumped from underground aquifers each year. The project is opposed by environmental groups, ranchers, local government officials and Native American tribes in both Nevada and Utah. Steve Erickson with the Great Basin Water Network says it's likely they'll bypass an administrative appeal and take the issue straight to court to try and stop the project.
"That decision hasn't been made yet by the opponents of the project," Erickson tells KUER, "but it's fairly clear there are folks lining up to take the BLM to court over their decision."
Utah Governor Gary Herbert had been waiting for the BLM to act on the right-of-way before deciding whether to sign an agreement dividing water rights in the Snake Valley on the Utah-Nevada border. Alan Matheson, the governor's top environmental advisor, says Herbert is not ready to announce a decision on that just yet.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority didn't respond to KUER's request for comment, but it's director, Pat Mulroy, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the decision is a "huge milestone" and provides a "critical safety net" for southern Nevada in the future.