Bill addressing beneficial use of Nevada water moves forward

The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining moved forward Assemblyman James Oscarson’s bill that seeks to address beneficial water use in overallocated basins, critical management areas and in times of drought.

Assembly Bill 209, introduced in the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining in March revises provisions governing the forfeiture of water rights and aims to conserve water. On Thursday, members of the committee unanimously voted in favor of the bill.

At the hearing in March, Oscarson submitted amendments and after the hearing, Nevada State Engineer Jason King proposed several amendments to allow extensions necessary to work on forfeitures to be granted for a three-year period.

Under existing law, water rights holders have to prove their beneficial water rights every five years. A holder of underground water rights forfeits the right if he or she fails to beneficially use the water for five successive years, according to the “use-it-or-lose-it” doctrine.

The bill addresses the problem by removing the requirement for water right owners to prove their water rights in times of drought or in an overappropriated basin.

Existing law authorizes the holder of a water right to request an extension to work the forfeiture and the state engineer may grant an extension for good cause shown if the request is made before the expiration of the time necessary to work the forfeiture.

The bill requires State Engineer Jason King to extend the time necessary to work on forfeiture if the request is made before the expiration of the time and the water right authorizes the holder of the right to use groundwater in a basin where the withdrawals consistently exceed perennial yield or that has been designated as a critical management area, according to the documents.

The Nevada state engineer may grant upon request any number of extensions, but a single extension must not exceed one year, according to the documents.

Oscarson, R-Pahrump, didn’t return requests for additional comment by press time on Tuesday.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at On Twitter: @dariasokolova77