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LAS VEGAS • A proposal to pipe groundwater about 300 miles from Utah and eastern Nevada to Las Vegas is getting negative feedback even from southern Nevadans who would most benefit from the system.
A hearing Monday in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson drew more than 140 people and about 80 percent of those who spoke opposed the Southern Nevada Water Authority's proposal, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Opponents said it will kick up dust and deprive deep-rooted plants of water. Others said it was wrong to grab water from rural residents and wildlife and give it to a growing, ever-thirstier Las Vegas.
"It's just a moral mistake," said Henderson resident Steve Rypka.
Supporters included members of the business community and construction industry, who say Las Vegas needs a steady water source to recover from a deep economic slump.
They also argued that the desert city which draws 90 percent of its drinking water from the Colorado River needs to diversify its water supply or risk a shortage.
The hearing comes as the Bureau of Land Management considers whether to allow the network of pipes and wells in basins in Nevada's Clark, Lincoln and White Pine counties, as well as in western Utah's Snake Valley.
The federal agency in June released a document detailing the environmental impacts of the project, which would pump enough water to supply about 440,000 Las Vegas households each year.
Two more hearings are scheduled this week in Nevada: One is 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Lincoln County town of Alamo and another is set for 3 p.m. Thursday in the Reno area. Officials have already held hearings in Baker, Ely, Elko and Pioche in Nevada, and Salt Lake City and Delta in Utah.
The lengthy environmental impact statement is available in libraries and government offices across Nevada and Utah, or on the bureau's website, http://www.blm.gov/5w5c. Members of the public have until Oct. 11 to submit comments on the report.
A final draft of the report is expected in mid-2012. Bureau of Land Management officials could make a decision on whether to allow the project on their land as little as a month after the report is released.