A coalition of ranchers, environmentalists and political leaders sent a letter to Governor Gary Herbert, asking him not to sign a deal worked out with the state of Nevada to divide water rights in the Snake Valley. Steve Erickson represents the Great Basin Water Network. He says the deal worked out three years ago should be scrapped and the states should negotiate a new one.
"We have plenty of time to do further science and assess the potential damages from this project before we sign on the bottom line," Erickson told reporters at the Utah state capitol.
Alan Matheson, the governor's environmental advisor, says Herbert hasn't made up his mind yet whether to sign the agreement. A panel of attorneys he asked to review the deal says it contains some protections for the state that wouldn't be available if he just lets it go.
"Foremost in the governor's mind," Matheson tells KUER, "is the protection of Utah's people, water and environment. And that's the decision. It's not being based on any political considerations."
The agreement was required by federal law as part of the Southern Nevada Water Authority's plan to pump groundwater from valleys in the Great Basin through a 300-mile pipeline to Las Vegas.