Sisolak walks a tightrope

Democratic nominee for governor Steve Sisolak, on record as opposing the eastern Nevada water grab, nevertheless voted as a Clark County commissioner to appeal the state water engineer’s veto of the project.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority for three decades has planned to transfer water from western Utah and eastern Nevada to feed growth in Clark County. In a vote on whether to appeal water engineer Jason King’s Aug. 17 denial of water rights applications that the SNWA wanted to move rural groundwater to Las Vegas, Sisolak—a member of the SNWA board—voted to appeal. The project is opposed by environmental groups, small county communities, ranchers, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In a recent commentary in the Elko Free Press, Sisolak wrote, “My opinion is that this project is not a smart or effective way to spend what is projected to cost more than $15 billion. This plan is nothing more than a 20th-century band-aid to a 21st-century problem. And despite recent actions taken by the Southern Nevada Water Authority Board to remain at the table for conversations about the future of this project, my opinion has not changed.”

After the SNWA vote, KSNV News quoted Sisolak explaining his vote: “I think that the south should know that I’m well concerned about our long-term water supply, and the north should know that I’m well concerned about our long-term water supply, and the rurals should feel the same way.”

Republican nominee for governor Adam Laxalt has yet to take a position on the water transfer. Three Republican state legislators published an essay in the Free Press purporting to speak for Laxalt, but they did not commit him to oppose the water grab.