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COMMUNITY VIEWPOINT: For the real water picture in Pahrump Valley

Water has become a very important issue of late although it has been monitored since before Nevada became a state. The Nye County Water District Board was established to deal with the management of water resources in all of Nye County. Go to their home page at URL; http://nyecountywaterdistrict.net/ for additional information. The following is a quote from their web page:

“Nye County has long recognized the need for water resource planning and management. The bill forming the Nye County Water District (NCWD) was approved on June 18, 2007 by the Nevada Legislature pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes 2007, Chapter 542, under Selected Special and Local Acts. The bill, also known as the Nye County Water District Act, became effective July 1, 2007.

“The NCWD was formed to develop sustainable sources of water vital to long-term economic development, protection of the environment and the well-being of the residents of Nye County. In addition to other powers and duties of the governing board outlined within Chapter 542 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, the board is authorized to levy and collect certain taxes; to incur indebtedness and issue bonds; to acquire land, water rights and property of every kind; and to construct any work for the development, importation or distribution of the water of the district.

“The NCWD is working to :

• Develop a long-term sustainability plan of development for the water resources in Nye County;

• Evaluate and mitigate the environmental impacts associated with resource use;

• Better define the groundwater and surface water resources conditions; and

• Define alternative approaches for the management of the water resources of the region.

“The NCWD service area includes all real property within the boundaries of Nye County, Nevada.”

So here we are 6 ½ years later and what is the status of the four bullets above?

Where is the long-term plan? If there is one then why is the State Engineer engaged?

Do we have any soil or water samples from Yucca Mountain or the Nevada Test Site?

Do we know if these are impacting the Nye County water resources? Which way does the water flow?

How much water do we have? The recharge estimate is 12,000 acre feet per year and Pahrump Valley is using an estimated 13,352 acre feet per year; that is a shortage of 1,352 acre feet per year and this has been going on for years. Have we used all the available science to estimate the water resources? Have the authorities used an Electromagnetic Airborne Survey (EMAS) to support their flow surveys? For more information on the EMAS, do a computer search for the San Pedro Upper basin Study that was done in Arizona in 1997. Also, for more information on the current statistics for Nye County please visit URL: http:/water.nv.gov.documents/presentations/Pahrump.pdf. There you will find a 46-slide show on this topic – very interesting.

What alternative approaches have been suggested for the management of water resources of the region? Presently there are 72,343 acre feet of groundwater rights in Pahrump Valley; fortunately we are only pumping 13,352 acre feet per year. What if those owning the water rights chose to pump what they own? Some tough management decisions are looming just around the corner. What has been done to manage this?

Bottom line: As part of any plan, I recommend the county consider; first, get the best estimate of how much water is actually in the aquifer(s) of Pahrump Valley and Nye County; second, determine how many aquifers there are; third, determine if Amargosa Valley and Pahrump Valley water resources are potentially connected through Stewart Valley; fourth, determine which way the water flows from a potential contaminant perspective.

In closing, I recommend all of you visit the sites above and then familiarize yourselves as a minimum with NRS 534.110(6 &7), 534.030, NRS 534.080, NRS 533.450 and NRS 534.037. We all have a vested interest in this whether or not you own a well or are paying for water and sewer and if we don’t manage our water resources, the State of Nevada will.

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