Gov. Gary Herbert made the right decision last month when he announced he would not sign a controversial agreement that would have given Nevada the go-ahead to mine the precious groundwater under the Snake Valley. He should not renege on it at the behest of legislators and other members of the Utah Water Development Commission.
Herbert deserved all the praise he received for withstanding political and legal pressure and refusing to sign away the ancient water that lies deep under the dry soil straddling the Utah-Nevada border. There were as many or more opponents of the agreement, who cited the potential for creating a dust bowl in the West Desert that would worsen air pollution on the Wasatch Front, and the bad precedent the deal would set as worsening droughts make water even more scarce.
But Herbert said he based his decision on what he learned from listening to those who stood to be most affected by the deal local officials, Indian tribes, ranchers and other landowners. Most of them feared the agreement would lead to a disastrous draw-down of the small quantity of water that barely supports a delicate ecosystem.