[REGIONAL NEWS] Water fight continues in eastern Nevada, western Utah with church-owned ranch in the middle

Controversial goundwater pumping plan back in court


Rancher Dean Baker, a member of the negotiating committee for the Snake Valley aquifer water sharing agreement under consideration by Nevada and Utah officials, stands next to an old trough on the Nevada side of the Snake Valley on Monday, Oct. 19, 2009. /Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News

By Amy Joi O’Donoghue | Deseret News

Attorneys for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Millard and Juab counties were in a Nevada court Tuesday and Wednesday arguing that a monitoring plan for a proposed groundwater pumping project is insufficient to protect water resources in eastern Nevada and western Utah.

The plan by the Southern Nevada Water Authority is also opposed by the Great Basin Water Network and the Goshute, Duckwater and Ely tribes.

According to the network, the project’s first phase aims to siphon at least 58 billion gallons of water annually away from the Great Basin via a 300-mile pipeline to Las Vegas.

At one point, groundwater pumping was being pursued in Snake Valley, which straddles the Nevada-Utah border, but the water authority is now focused on adjacent valleys that include Spring Valley where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates Cleveland Ranch.

In a filing before Nevada’s 7th Judicial District Court in Ely, church attorneys argued the ruling issued in 2018 by the Nevada Division Water Resources approving the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s management plan enables groundwater pumping that will cause “drastic” groundwater drawdowns and annihilate existing water rights.

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