Senate Bill 65 and 81, currently under consideration by the Nevada legislature, are water-related bills that will have some impact on the residents of rural Nevada and Lincoln County, according to County Water General Manager Wade Poulsen.
He said he recently attended a video conference workshop in Las Vegas, streamed from Carson City, and created by Senator Pete Goicoechea.
“SB 81 is to create some tool for the State engineer to declare a basin a critical managed basin,” Poulsen saId. “It’s a bill that could help solve the problem in Pahrump and Diamond Valley in eastern Eureka County.”
Both of those basins are over appropriated by several tens of thousands of acre-feet of water. The others bill, SB 65, is what the state engineer calls a “clean up bill.” Poulsen said the City of Caliente had some water rights taken away from them and the bill has been presented to fix some of the issues like that and make it easier for the engineer to fix.”
He said, “If passed, the two bills could really change the outlook of water into the future.”
The idea of the video conference workshops are to allow the public to attend “and weigh in on the language that would be used,” Poulsen said.
He added, ”Of course, when you get all of the water people in the state together, there is always going to be some disagreements as to what language should be and what language should not be used.”
However, he said he found it surprising that the people in the area of SB 81, Pahrump and Diamond Valley areas, did not support the bill, which Poulsen though would really be of benefit to them. “Now, I don’t know that SB 81 is going to go anywhere.”
Regarding SB 65, Poulsen said there is “some language that could be inserted that would eliminate what we call the Caliente Problem. The problem being that water given to Caliente in the late 1960s, early 70s, had no duty assigned to the cubic feet.”
“Apparently,” he said, “Caliente was not using as much water as they should have, so they ended up losing some certificated water rights.”
Poulsen said, “We wanted to insert some language in SB 65 along with Eureka County, that stated that a municipality would be able to not lose those certificated water rights as long as they put forth a water resource plan that could show the beneficial use of the water in a Master Plan, but Washoe County and Churchill County complained,” although Poulsen did not explain what their complaint was based on.
In the long run, the language placed in the bill by the state engineer will remain, he said, and the language proposed by Lincoln and Eureka County will not be included.
Poulsen said he did feel frustrated by the lack of having the proposed language included in SB 65. “I think there is an opportunity that we could fix a problem. But we are in the minority, and the other people probably don’t have those kinds of water applications that are subject to take away and instead may be fearing that municipalities would then be able to “stack” water rights.”
The bills will go into Senate committees for further work and Poulsen said, “Right now I’m not so sure that either one of them is going to pass.”