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Utah Governor says "No" to sharing water with Las Vegas

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 New) - Governor Gary Herbert just may have killed the so-called "Las Vegas water grab." He announced Wednesday that he will not sign a water sharing agreement with Nevada.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 New) - Governor Gary Herbert just may have killed the so-called "Las Vegas water grab." He announced Wednesday that he will not sign a water sharing agreement with Nevada.

That agreement would have allowed Las Vegas to pipe water out of the Basin and Range aquifer just below the surface of Snake Valley. Because the aquifer sits on the border, both states have a right to it's water.

For the people -- mostly ranchers -- scattered through the Snake Valley, the Governor's announcement was greeted with relief. They feared the Vegas pipeline believing the water level in the aquifer would drop and the land would dry up along with their way of life.

Governor Herbert said, "The voice of the people is loud and clear. We don't like the agreement and we don't think the timing is right for an agreement."

Still, Las Vegas is thirsty. It needs new sources of water.  For the better part of the last decade, its Southern Nevada Water District has pushed for the Snake Valley pipeline.

The water sharing agreement was to have been the last hurdle. Now as they see it, Governor Herbert has replaced the hurdle with a brick wall.

In a statement from the water district, a spokesman wrote, "We are disappointed that Governor Herbert has unilaterally chosen not to comply with a Congressional directive to both his state and Nevada."

In the past, the water district has threatened to take Utah "all the way to the Supreme Court" over the water in the Great Basin.  The statement concluded, "In the coming days and weeks, we will evaluate our options to address this unprecedented action."


Governor Herbert said he understands the water needs of Vegas, but added it won't quench its thirst with Utah water. "They have needs for water to take care of their economic engine in Las Vegas. And I hope that they are able to find ways to do that. We're just saying don't take any Utah water.

"Our goals and objectives stay the same. Number one: protect Utah water. We don't want to give up one drop of Utah water to anybody, including Nevada."
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