an member station
Simeon Herskovits, attorney
BY LEE HERNANDEZ -- A proposal from the Southern Nevada Water Authority to build a pipeline that would pump billions of gallons of groundwater from Northern to Southern Nevada has run into an interesting mix of opponents including ranchers, the Goshute Nation and even the LDS Church.
Attorney Simeon Herskovits will represent many of those groups as they face off against SNWA in court next week. Their argument against the pipeline is that it would cause devastating and irreversible effects to the landscape.
“We contend, and frankly all of the models including the models produced by SNWA and used by the federal government, show that over time this project will dramatically and continuously lower the ground water table over a large and expanding geographic area because many of these large basins, or valleys, in the basin and range country are interconnected hydrologically,” says Herskovits.
In 2012, the Nevada State Engineer granted SNWA permission to pump 84,000 acre-feet of water from areas in Lincoln and White Pine Counties. Herskovits and his clients believe the decision was hasty and not based on sound science.
“The problem in some of the instances is that there was no serious scientific study to examine whether or not there would be a large or manageable risk of causing things like dust storms by drying out playas, wetlands and areas that are covered with water or that are moistened by ground water now,” says Herskovits. “And in terms of some of the other effects the state engineer, in our opinion, chose to arbitrarily cut off his analysis of future impacts after a very short time period.”
According to the SNWA’s website, the pipeline will reduce Southern Nevada’s reliance on Colorado River water and provide flexibility to respond to drought conditions on the river system. The water authority also says the pipeline will help meet future projected water demand in Clark County.
“I think it’s important to ensure that Southern Nevada has an adequate, sufficient water supply, I don’t dispute that and neither do the folks I represent. The question is how you go about that. What is the most prudent and sustainable way of achieving that end,” says Herskovits. “We believe that there are a number of alternatives that are already available, feasible and more cost efficient than this massive infrastructure project and that don’t have the likelihood of continuous litigation and possible exposure to future dramatic environmental problems.”
Southern Nevada Water Authority General Manager, Pat Mulroy will join KNPR’s State of Nevada on Thursday to discuss water issues, including the proposed pipeline.