CARSON CITY, Nev. — Six weeks of hearings featuring testimony from more than 80 witnesses may have concluded, but there is still time to weigh in on water right applications for development of a Las Vegas pipeline.

The hearings by the Nevada State Engineer are the result of the Southern Nevada Water Authority seeking groundwater withdrawals in four eastern and central Nevada valleys: Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar.

Snake Valley, which occupies both Nevada and Utah, would also possibly be tapped in support of the 300-mile pipeline, but those hearings have yet to be scheduled.

Public comments on the water applications are still being accepted, but must be mailed or hand delivered and received in the State Engineer’s office no later than Friday. The address is Office of the State Engineer, 901 S. Stewart Street, Suite 2002, Carson City, NV 89701 – Attn: Susan Joseph-Taylor. Comments emailed to by midnight Wednesday will be hand delivered by the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club, which is opposed to the project.

Another opponent, The Center for Biological Diversity, plans to deliver a letter and a DVD to the water authority's board of directors on Wednesday. The DVD contains more than 21,200 comments from critics of the pipeline plan.

"As officials elected to uphold the public's interest and trust, it is time for you to rein in SNWA (and) put the groundwater development project on hold," wrote Rob Mrowka, who also serves on the board of the Great Basin Water Network.

The group was among several that held a press conference Monday to reiterate their concerns over the pipeline, which SNWA contends is a necessary option it needs to ensure adequate drinking supplies in the future.

An estimated 90 percent of Las Vegas' water comes from the Colorado River, which has suffered from drought and is already over allocated, according to some water managers. Nevada's share of the river is paltry compared to some states like Utah, and the water authority is looking to lock down an alternative supply.

The authority is seeking up to 184,655 acre feet for its groundwater development project and has a right-of-way application pending before the Bureau of Land Management. The federal agency did not weigh in on any preferred route in its preliminary analysis of the proposal, saying to do so would be premature until it's decided if there is enough water for the pipeline.

A variety of groups have launched protests to the pumping plan, asserting tapping the aquifers is not sustainable. Particularly critical opposition has come from multiple counties in Utah, including Millard, Juab and Salt Lake County, which has voiced concerns over dust storms that could result.

A proposed water sharing agreement that came out of years of negotiations between Utah and Nevada officials remains unsigned by Utah, which has put off lending its endorsement to divvying up Snake Valley water supplies. The agreement remains pending while the water right applications are being decided.

Nevada's State Engineer Jason King is due to render a decision in March.

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