A hearing is scheduled to begin in March on a proposal by a Reno engineer to pump water from a desert valley east of Pyramid Lake and pipe it to Fernley.
Tom Gallagher, owner of Summit Engineering Corp., said if approved, the proposed Granite Valley project could eventually be expanded to provide more water to the Reno-Sparks area.
Gallagher is seeking approval from the state water engineer for 20,000 acre-feet of water rights from the remote valley in Pershing County, which is opposed to the filing.
A hearing is scheduled to begin March 19.
Gallagher's water exploration firm, Aqua Trac, has filed applications for 130,000 acre-feet in Granite Springs and another 30,000 acre-feet in nearby Kumiva Valley.
Critics question the amount of available water and raise concerns about recharge.
But Gallagher maintains that a test well drilled last summer pumped more than 50 million gallons over seven days with no lowering of the aquifer.
The big question is if there is adequate rainfall to sustain the water source.
Gallagher describes the valley as filled with sand 6,000 feet deep or more and surrounded by granite mountains, creating a vast basin for water to settle.
He contends recharge is fast because precipitation seeps through
the sand quickly.
A new three-dimensional method in measuring how much rainfall seeps into the ground called PRISM shows the water source will be replenished, he said.
For the two valleys, state precipitation records mark an average of 7.2 inches a year, totaling 503,681 acre-feet. The PRISM method estimates 721,814 acre-feet.
In the late 1970s, the U.S. Geological Survey set the perennial yield at 4,500 acre-feet for Granite Springs and 500 acre-feet for Kumiva Valley.