Arguments Continue Over Las Vegas Water Plan

Backers and foes of a plan to pump billions of gallons of water to booming Las Vegas differ over the economic prospects of the rural Nevada valleys that would have to give up the water.

Proponents of the Southern Nevada Water Authority plan to draw more than 11.3 billion gallons of groundwater a year from Delamar, Dry Lake and Cave valleys maintain that a population boom in the isolated area is unlikely no matter what.

Foes of the proposed pumping, part of SNWA's $2 billion-plus project to pipe water across the water to Las Vegas, counter that growth has occurred before in the areas and can again - but only if there's available groundwater.

Richard Holmes, SNWA's environmental resources director, said the areas may have boomed years ago, but when he looks to the future "I just don't see it happening."

Tim Sullivan, a real estate adviser hired by Cave Valley Ranch LLC which has development plans in Cave Valley, counters that many people from urban areas are drawn to valleys like the ones SNWA wants to pump - and water is critical for them.