Water vs. health

More than a dozen Republican state attorneys general around the nation have announced their intention to use litigation to stop federal health-care changes.

In Utah, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s intention to join the effort drew criticism for wasting money that could be put to better use on higher Utah priorities.

“He should be spending his time on some other matters, like the Las Vegas water grab,” said Citizens Education Project founder Steve Erickson, referring to Nevada efforts to tap the Snake Valley aquifer to feed growth in southern Nevada. (Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said she’ll look at the issue when a single health-care measure actually passes Congress.)

Subsequently, a tentative agreement between Utah and Nevada over the aquifer was announced, with Utah prepared to cede water to Las Vegas. That upset rural residents of Utah, who suspected a deal was being cut for Nevada not to oppose a pipeline to bring water from Lake Powell to Sand Hollow Reservoir in southern Utah. State officials denied any quid pro quo.

The agreement splits 108,000 acre-feet of water believed to be under the Snake River Valley, with each state getting half. That’s a concession to Nevada, not previously a user of the water.