WEST WENDOVER - The cities of West Wendover and Wendover, Utah, have filed a series of joint applications with the Nevada state engineer for water appropriations in outlying aquifers in future years, despite opposition from some area residents.
Five applications for groundwater near Pilot Valley northwest of West Wendover cost the cities an estimated $2 million. They project the water wouldn't be put to beneficial use for about 15 years.
The Elko County Commission recently endorsed the applications on a 4-1 vote over the objections of several Pilot Valley residents who see it as a water grab.
Susan Perkins said she's confident that if it were put to a vote, the majority of residents there would be against the idea.
James Stappenbeck said in a written protest that if the amount of water sought was granted, it would "significantly deplete the aquifer and lower the static levels impacting current water rights and wells."
"Residents and ranchers would then bear the substantial cost of drilling deeper for water," he said.
Stappenbeck also noted that West Wendover and Wendover currently have six active wells but only use two at one time. He added that the populations of both cities have decreased in the past decade, according to census figures.
The county's action is not binding, only a recommendation to the state engineer.
Commissioner Grant Gerber was the lone dissenter. He said he wanted to hear from West Wendover and Newmont Mine before making a decision. But neither Newmont nor West Wendover officials were present and the other commissioners said they needed to get their vote on the record because the engineer could make a decision on some of the applications before next month's commission meeting.