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B-L-M: More Time, Please, for Pipeline Scrutiny

June 30, 2011

LAS VEGAS - The federal Bureau of Land Management wants the public to have its say this summer on the environmental impacts of piping 65 billion gallons of groundwater per year from Utah and rural Nevada to Las Vegas.

Rose Strickland, public-lands chairman with the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, says the public needs more time to digest thousands of pages of data on the massive project which would impact both states' water supplies for the next 200 years.

"To extend the comment period - 90 days is just too short a time for people to be able to read a 4,000-page document, much less comment on it."

The BLM is in the process of scheduling public hearings in August. Strickland says ranchers, conservationists, Native American tribes and other members of the Great Basin Water Network want the BLM to give folks in Nevada and Utah until December to comment.

Even though it has been five years in the making, some say the draft Environmental Impact Statement is still too vague in parts. Stickland says the Sierra Club still is studying the document, but it already raises some big concerns.

"This is going to involve significant drops in water tables, significant subsidence. The amount is so huge that it is having massive environmental impact in eastern Nevada and western Utah."

The environmental impact statement indicates those water table drops could exceed 200 feet, Strickland says. The first hearings are proposed for Pioche and Baker, Nevada, and Delta, Utah, during the first week of August.

The draft environmental impact statement is online at the BLM website,

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV