Preferred alternative allows SNWA to
move forward with permitted water rights.
The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) related to the SNWA’s Clark, Lincoln and White Pine Counties Groundwater Development Project.
In the FEIS, the BLM identified a Preferred Alternative—which, while not a final agency decision, indicates the BLM’s current preference.
The Preferred Alternative would allow the SNWA rights of way in all of the basins where the SNWA has been currently permitted water rights, but would not include rights-of-way in Snake Valley. Proposed as a result of public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, this alternative does not preclude the SNWA from pursuing its groundwater applications in the Snake Valley Hydrographic Basin at some future time, an action that would be subject to additional environmental analysis. Although the Preferred Alternative is often adopted, the BLM’s decision is not final until the release of a Record of Decision, scheduled to occur in the fall.
The voluminous document, which represents the most comprehensive analysis ever conducted for a municipal water supply project, was required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The SNWA initiated this process in 2004.
The issuance of the FEIS does not represent the end of the NEPA compliance process. Even after this phase is complete, there will be additional phases of NEPA compliance for development of exploratory wells and other related facilities. The schedule for pipeline construction will be dictated by Colorado River conditions and other factors.
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