Governor Gary Herbert says he’ll decide whether or not to sign the controversial water sharing agreement with Nevada in the next couple of weeks. Nevada officials signed the document three years ago. It would allow the state to pump groundwater to Las Vegas by way of Snake Valley, which straddles the Utah/Nevada border.
The governor, speaking at the monthly KUED today news conference says it’s clear most people in Utah and even some in Nevada believe the pipeline is a mistake.
“Our concern is we can’t tell Nevada what to do. That’s their decision," Herbert says. "But we have skin in the game here in water in Snake Valley. I can promise you all that my goal is very clear. We will not give up one molecule of water to Nevada that is Utah water"
Herbert says whether or not he signs the agreement he will fight hard to protect Utah’s water rights and the environment.
But the question is whether the agreement helps or hinders Utah in achieving that goal.
Herbert says while local governments and many residents do not want him to sign the agreement, attorneys say it’s in the best interest of the state to have a say in the project if Nevada moves forward.
“The agreement is designed to say if in fact you do that than here is the agreement we have between the states and a way to monitor and have some triggers that would maybe help us stop them from pumping additional water and causing degradation to water rights and the environment," Herbert says.
The aquifers in Snake Valley are currently off limits to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the agency that proposed the pipeline.