LAS VEGAS (AP) — Water officials in Nevada’s most populous city have one crucial approval in hand.

But they but still need another — and billions of dollars — before shovels hit the ground on a massive pipeline project to supply water from rural eastern Nevada to Las Vegas.

And that’s if expected court challenges don’t slow the process.

Southern Nevada Water Authority official John Entsminger (ENTS-mihn-gur) said Friday it’ll be at least a couple of years before Las Vegas sees the benefit of Thursday’s water rights ruling by the Nevada state engineer.

The pipeline network would stretch about 280 miles from Las Vegas to White Pine County near the Utah state line.

The water would provide a backup to drought-stricken Lake Mead. That’s where Las Vegas currently gets almost all its drinking water.

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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