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BLM extends public comment on proposed groundwater development project


blm_logo-300x261-1386306-8232674BLM NEWS RELEASE

In response to numerous requests, the BLM Nevada will extend public comment 30 days on the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) Groundwater Development and Conveyance Project, to provide the public additional opportunity to review the document.

Public comments on the DEIS and Draft Programmatic Agreement will be accepted through Oct. 11, 2011.  The original 90-day comment period was scheduled to end Sept. 9, 2011.  Comments received or postmarked after Oct. 11 will be considered to the extent practicable.

The public may submit comments regarding to the DEIS or Draft Programmatic Agreement for the SNWA Project by any of the following methods:

–     E-mail: [email protected]

–     Fax: (775) 861-6689

–     Mail: SNWA Project, Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Penny Woods, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno NV 89502

The BLM scheduled nine public meetings to provide the public opportunities to comment the DEIS and Draft Programmatic Agreement.  The draft document analyzes a SNWA proposal for a system of regional water facilities and pipelines to transport water to the Las Vegas Valley.  The BLM’s action is to either grant or deny the request for rights-of-way across public land.

Public meetings have been held in Pioche, Baker, Ely, and Elko, Nevada, and in Delta and Salt Lake City, Utah.  Upcoming meeting locations, dates and times are:

·     Las Vegas, Nev., Aug. 15 at 4 p.m., Henderson Convention Center, 200 S. Water Street

·     Alamo, Nev., Aug. 16 at 5 p.m., Lincoln County Alamo Annex, 121 Joshua Tree Street

·     Reno, Nev., Aug. 18 at 3 p.m., Sparks High School Large Gym, 820 15th Street

The project, as proposed by the SNWA, would provide for the development of the first phase (main conveyance pipeline and associated facilities) of a multi-year project which would eventually deliver groundwater from the Spring, Snake, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar hydrographic basins to the Las Vegas area.  Although water rights, pumping rates, volume of water proposed for transport to the Las Vegas Valley, and the point of use of water proposed for transport across public land is outside the jurisdiction of the BLM, these issues are included in the EIS.  Water rights and pumping rates are under the purview of the Nevada State Engineer.  Water distribution and use associated with the importation of water in the Las Vegas Valley are addressed by local and regional planning agencies in accordance with Nevada Revised Statutes.

The draft EIS addresses the construction and operation of a system of regional water facilities which include 306 miles of a buried water pipeline; 323 miles of 230 kilovolt (kV), 69 kV and 25 kV overhead power lines; seven electrical substations; three pressure reducing facilities; five pumping stations; six regulating tanks; a 40 million-gallon-per-day buried storage reservoir; and a 165 million-gallon-per-day water treatment facility.

Whenever possible, the proposed project facilities would be constructed within utility corridors established by the Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act of 2004 and the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act of 1998.  An approved right-of-way is contingent on compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. Establishment of the utility corridors has no bearing on water rights.

Water rights applications in Snake, Spring, Cave, Dry Lake, and Delamar valleys are pending with the Nevada State Engineer.  The Nevada State Engineer is solely responsible for the adjudication and permitting process to allow the development of those waters. This EIS does not address the permitting or authorization of water rights.

The Notice of Availability of the draft EIS was announced in the June 10, 2011 Federal Register.  The Notice of Extension of the Public Comment Period was published in the Aug. 12, 2011 Federal Register.  Copies of the document are available from the BLM Nevada State Office, 775-861-6681 or [email protected].  An electronic version of the document is available at www.blm.gov/5w5c.

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