LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- The idea to pipe millions of gallons out of the ground in rural northeast Nevada to satisfy the needs of the Las Vegas valley passes another hurdle.
The federal Bureau of Land Management signed off on the plan Thursday. But the deal is far from done.
The BLM says it will give the Southern Nevada Water Authority the right of way for a controversial pipeline from up north, but it still needs to see a comprehensive plan from the agency.
The Water Authority will get that right of way under a number of conditions that includes plans to protect natural resources. Even after that, it could face challenges.
SNWA says a groundwater pipeline could serve 300,000 homes each year.
The Bureau of Land Management still needs to see a comprehensive plan from the Water Authority.
John Entsminger with the SNWA says even after the project is shovel-ready, at least three years away, construction will depend on Lake Mead's elevation. Currently, the water level sits at about 1,115 feet, 40 feet above the construction trigger mark.
Groups argue the pipeline is costly, environmentally and economically.
The water authority says under the worst case scenario, an average user's bill could rise $30 per month.
Launce Rake believes the long term solution is conserving water, and he says various groups are promising to take this decision to court.
The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada says it's disappointed with the decision, calling it stealing water from rural Nevada, and says it will most likely join other groups in a lawsuit.