WEST WENDOVER — With an eye on its future water needs, West Wendover is looking at outlying aquifers.
The city filed five applications with the Office of the State Engineer seeking water appropriations from a basin near Pilot Valley. The application estimates a $2 million cost to the cities (Wendover, Utah, is included on the application) with an estimated time of 15 years before water is put to beneficial use.
A few residents in Pilot Valley don’t want their water touched, and formally protested the application through the Office. Residents also spoke out against the water grab at an Elko County Commission meeting. Susan Perkins told the commission she was confident if voted on by Pilot Valley residents, a majority would be opposed.
Resident James Stappenbeck wrote in a formal protest, “The amount of water, if granted, would significantly deplete the aquifer and lower the static levels impacting current water rights and wells. Residents and ranchers would then bear the substantial cost of drilling deeper for water.”
Stappenbeck also noted that West Wendover and Wendover, Utah, currently have six active wells but only use two at one time. The populations of both cities have decreased in the last decade according to census figures, he included.
One Pilot Valley resident suggested West Wendover wished to acquire the water to be used as an asset it could lease out to mining companies and other future entities.
Elko County Commissioners voted 3 to 1 not to recommend to the State Engineer to approve the application. The decision, however, does not hinge on the county’s vote.
Commissioner Grant Gerber, the only dissenting vote, said he wanted to hear from West Wendover and Newmont Mine before making a decision. Unfortunately, neither representatives from Newmont nor West Wendover attended the commission meeting and the county was concerned that the State Engineer might make a decision before next month’s commission meeting.
Updated at 9:40 a.m. with corrections to vote. The Elko County Commissioners voted 3 to 1 with one abstention. The original article stated the vote as 4 to 1.