The water wars on the Utah-Nevada border will continue for at least two more years. On Friday, Nevada’s state engineer granted Las Vegas’ water supplier a two year delay before hearings to debate the merit of Sin City’s plans to drill in the cross-border Snake Valley and pump resulting water through a 300-mile long pipeline to Vegas.
Hearings on the proposal were scheduled for September. The Southern Nevada Water Authority asked for a one-year delay to perfect a computer model it has been ordered to produce predicting the impact of sustained pumping on the area. The Nevada engineer delayed the hearing for two years, to an as-yet unscheduled date in 2011.
Ranchers on the Utah side of Snake Valley have protested Vegas’ pumping plans out of fear their crops will dry up. Salt Lake County also is trying to fight the wells, fearing that Snake Valley could turn into a dust bowl that blows to the Wasatch Front. Utah will use the delay to drill and pump a series of test wells in Snake Valley to determine what happens to underground water levels. Meanwhile, scary stories about drought in the West continue. The Washington Post recently wrote about a series of dust storms that have hit Colorado’s high Rockies a record 11 times in the past year, changing snowmelt patterns.