SALT LAKE CITY - Governor Gary R. Herbert has directed that negotiations between the states of Utah and Nevada regarding water in the Snake Valley area be put on hold in light of a Nevada Supreme Court decision released today.
"This ruling significantly changes the landscape upon which our ongoing discussions have been based," Governor Herbert said. "It allows us to revisit the proposed agreement with the State of Nevada and ensure that our continued desire to protect Utah's water interests and the environment is met."
The Governor has maintained that an agreement is necessary to protect Utah's water rights and environment, and has been working to reach consensus on a fair and equitable distribution of the ground water resources that are shared by the two states.
Today's ruling imposes new requirements on Nevada's state water engineer, which will include the reopening of the protest period for Snake Valley water applications. The Governor is committed to ensuring that Utah's interests are represented and considered in that process.
"Based on the additional requirements imposed by the Nevada Supreme Court, an agreement, at this time, is premature," Governor Herbert said. "We now have additional opportunities to continue to look at the issue and ensure that Utah's interests are protected well into the future."
The ruling stems from water appropriation applications filed in Nevada in 1989 by the then-Las Vegas Valley Water Department, which later became the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The ruling states, in part:
"Because we determine that the 1989 water appropriation applications were not pending in 2003, we conclude that the (Nevada) State Engineer violated his statutory duty by failing to take action within one year after the final protest date. Thus, we reverse the order of the district court and remand for a determination of whether SNWA must file new groundwater appropriation applications or whether the State Engineer must re-notice SNWA's 1989 applications and reopen the period during which appellants may file protests."
It is unknown how long it will take for the Nevada district court to make its decision after remand from the Nevada Supreme Court.
The Nevada Supreme Court's ruling can be found here: