A Nevada judge ruled Wednesday what some have called “the death knell” of an ongoing water case that could set precedence for the entire arid Southwest.
Judge Robert Estes rejected state approval needed for Las Vegas to pump billions of gallons of groundwater from rural valleys on the Nevada-Utah border and pipe it to Las Vegas. Estes ordered the state engineer to recalculate the amount of water available, conduct more hydrological studies and set standards and specific mitigation plans for limiting water rights conflicts.
“That’s going to be very hard to do,” said attorney Simeon Herskovits, who represented the communities opposed to the project. “They simply don’t have the science to back it up. This project has always been a recipe for disaster.”
The Southern Nevada Water Authority can ask the state engineer to comply with the judge’s demands or appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.
This project is one of the biggest attempts in the Southwest to find more water to quench the thirst of urban growth.