Utah, Nevada Draft Plan for Sharing Snake Valley Aquifer

"After four years of negotiations, Utah and Nevada officials have created a draft agreement for management of the controversial Snake Valley aquifer straddling both states.

Overall, it allows a 50 percent split of the water between the two states, strives for clean air and other environmental concerns and postpones new uses of the valley's water for a decade, pending further study.

The water-rights fight, which pits farmers and environmentalists against the needs of a sprawling metropolis hundreds of miles away, is a battle that experts say will increasingly be played out across the West as water sources dry up.

In this case, Nevada officials hope to build a 285-mile pipeline that would pump water from the Snake Valley to Las Vegas. But environmentalists say if the pipeline were approved it would suck so much water out of the valley that plants that hold the soil in place would die, potentially creating giant dust storms that would affect air quality as far away as the Wasatch Front."

Lynn Arave reports for the Deseret News August 14, 2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009