Vegas water pipeline discussed |

Vegas water pipeline discussed

Associated Press Writer

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is making a major effort to get rights to water in rural valleys that could be piped to Las Vegas, but a spokeswoman said Wednesday the pipeline project will be built only if “absolutely necessary.”

Pat Mulroy, SNWA general manager, told legislators that wide-ranging efforts are under way to find other water sources, including more Colorado River water, as drought conditions persist.

“We are not going to build the instate project unless it is absolutely necessary, unless there is absolutely nothing else we are going to do,” Mulroy told the Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee.

“Hopefully, Lake Mead will not go south on us as quickly as possible. But we don’t know,” Mulroy said, referring to the lake outside Las Vegas from which water is piped to SNWA customers. The lake has dropped more than 100 feet in the past several years.

Mulroy also said that the water agency’s strategy is to get all the permits needed for the 200-mile-long pipeline project, which could cost as much as $3.5 billion, so that construction could start quickly.

“Southern Nevada has no choice but to look at resources outside its boundaries in order to protect 2 million people,” she said.

Nevada’s state water engineer has scheduled a monthlong series of hearings starting Sept. 28 on a bid by SNWA, already authorized to pump more than 19 billion gallons of water a year from rural Nevada, to get rights to another 16 billion gallons from Snake Valley, on the state’s border with Utah.