ELY, Nev. (AP) — A state judge in Nevada says it will be months before he issues a ruling in a challenge over a $15 billion pipeline project to carry billions of gallons of water to Las Vegas from rural counties along the Nevada-Utah line.

Senior District Judge Robert Estes made the comment as a two-day hearing ended Friday in Ely on the appeal of water rights granted to the Southern Nevada Water Authority by Nevada’s state engineer, Jason King.

Estes says he faces several other trials and he won’t be able to “get started” on the case until August. However long it takes, he says, he hopes both sides realize he won’t “be dawdling” on it.

At issue is King’s 2012 order granting the water authority permission to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of groundwater a year from four rural valleys in Lincoln and White Pine counties. That’s enough water for over 160,000 homes.

No matter how Estes rules, the dispute is expected to wind up before the Nevada Supreme Court.

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