Las Vegas water pipeline fight to go before federal judge

Las Vegas water pipeline fight to go before federal judge.
Environmental groups and American Indian tribes are expected to tell U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon in Las Vegas on Monday that a proposed 263-mile (423-kilometer) north-to-south water pipeline just west of the Nevada-Utah state line amounts to a city water grab supported by incomplete and inadequate federal environmental studies.
Southern Nevada uses only 5 percent of Nevada’s statewide water resources, the statement said, but is responsible for roughly 70 percent of the state’s economic activity.
Rob Mrowka, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, evokes fears that remote springs will wither, rare species of plants and animals will die, and arid scrub brush rangeland in the Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys will turn to dust if Las Vegas is allowed to tap ancient underground aquifers that don’t naturally replenish every year.
"Their plan to drain ancient aquifers left by the last ice age would cause significant and catastrophic changes across a section of central Nevada the size of Vermont," said Mrowka, whose organization filed a lawsuit in February 2014 against the environmental findings.
But they say it may become essential if drought keeps shrinking Lake Mead on the Colorado River.
The Las Vegas area, home to 2 million people and host to 40 million visitors a year, currently gets almost all of its drinking water from the vast reservoir behind Hoover Dam.
Proponents and opponents also are due later this year to respond to an order by a Nevada state court judge in Ely that rejected findings by the state’s top water official, Jason King, that enough underground water exists to supply the pipeline.
"In practical terms, there will be no way to replenish or recharge these systems."
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