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Clock Ticking for Protestors of Historic Water Ruling

March 26, 2012

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Groups that could decide to challenge last week's big water decision are weighing their options. The Great Basin Water Network is one potential litigant against State Engineer Jason King's decision to permit pumping more than 80,000 acre-feet of water from rural Nevada and Utah to Las Vegas.

Rose Strickland, public lands chair for the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, says pipeline opponents have less than a month to decide if they want to challenge it in court. In the state process, a number of groups opposed the pipeline, including the Mormon church, conservation groups, county governments of rural Nevada and Utah, and Native American communities in the region.

"From the tribes to the Mormon church, I'm sure all of the protestants will be reading these extremely long rulings on the four valleys, before making that decision."

Engineer Jason King says the Southern Nevada Water Authority successfully proved that Las Vegas needs the water to meet growing demand, although many believe that issue is now likely headed to court.

Asher Koles, conservation assistant with the Round River Conservation Study, says it's hard to square the water ruling with all the evidence presented by Native American tribes. They said the massive water withdrawal posed a direct threat to cultural and spiritual resources, especially in Spring Valley.

"There's this disconnect between that cultural resource information and the map that was presented. It doesn't seem to have played a very large role in the water bureau's decision."

In a written statement, the Goshute Tribe noted it has already spent nine years legally defending itself against the proposed pipeline with little help from the federal government, and that this ruling posed the risk of "wiping out their tribe."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV