Nevada Governor Says He Won't Block Las Vegas Water Pipeline

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons said he won't block a
proposed water pipeline to pump water from eastern Nevada to the
Las Vegas area.

Gibbons, who in the past has expressed concern about the
multibillion dollar pipeline, said Thursday he would not oppose the
Southern Nevada Water Authority project.

"It's part of the overall solution," he told reporters at his Las Vegas office. "It's part of lessening our dependence on a single source of water in this region."

The Las Vegas area currently draws about 90 percent of its water
from the drought-stricken Lake Mead reservoir behind Hoover Dam on
the Colorado River.

By 2015, the Southern Nevada Water Authority hopes to begin pumping groundwater from rural parts of Clark, Lincoln and White Pine counties and piping it about 250 miles to Las Vegas. The project is expected to cost up to $3.5 billion.

State Engineer Tracy Taylor recently completed hearings and is due to make a decision in several months about whether to let the water authority draw billions of gallons of water for the project.

Proponents say they're entitled to the water, while opponents raise the specter of catastrophic environmental damage.

Water authority General Manager Pat Mulroy hailed Gibbons' comments as acknowledgment that southern Nevada needs to tap water to bolster current supplies and serve future growth.

Gibbons also talked about the pipeline project during a speech Thursday morning at the annual Las Vegas Perspective business forum in Las Vegas.

The governor said drought has sharpened the search for more water for the region.

"Ensuring the long-term vitality of southern Nevada's economy is not so much about finding new water sources to support future growth, but rather, decreasing the region's dependence on the Colorado River as its sole source of water," he said.

Gibbons' comments about the project came after he met privately in Las Vegas last month with water authority administrators for what one described as a "comprehensive briefing" on the pipeline and other water issues.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-04-04-08 1528EDT

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