Confusion prevailed over the Monday meeting where the Nye County Water District Governing Board tried to figure out what to do with the eight parts of the Basin 162 Groundwater Management Plan that had been sent to them by county commissioners last week.
Water board members gave a direction to its contractor Oz Wichman to prepare a staff report on county commission actions and said they will address beneficial water use in the future.
The items that were bounced back to the WDGB included aggressive water education, adoption of a water conservation plan, construction of rapid infiltration basins (RIBs), creation of incentives to voluntarily connect to public water systems, investment in existing and future development agreements, filling out charts with data, continuation of a water level measurement program and evaluation of redistribution of production well pumping.
Several other items that fall outside of the purview of the Nye County commissioners were sent to Nevada State Engineer Jason King.
Wichman said the staff report will organize the path forward.
“So there’s a whole bunch of work to be done to give this board, the water district governing board some sense of priority, bang for the buck, expenditures, a timeline,” Wichman said about future work.
Pahrump currently has over 60,000 acre feet of paper water rights on top of 11,000 domestic wells, a combination that threatens to throw the supply of water in the valley out of balance.
The recent data shows that Pahrump’s pumpage stands at about 14,000 acre feet annually. The perennial yield is 20,000 acre feet.
“I can tell you that we’ve been trending up about an additional 1,000 feet annually since 2012,” Wichman said.
Many Pahrump residents called for beneficial water use as they claimed it would remedy the problem of overallocation of water rights in the valley.
Nevada water law is based on prior appropriation and beneficial use according to the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Beneficial use includes the underlying principle of the appropriative rights system of water allocation, known as “use it or lose it,” according to the organization’s website.
Beneficial use means that the water is used for commercial, industrial, irrigation, mining, municipal, power generation, recreation, storage or wildlife.
WDGB board members decided to weigh the pros of beneficial use at the next meeting and seek counseling from the district attorney’s office on whether they have a legal authority to demand rather than request it from King.
“As long as we get some idea of what jurisdiction we have with regards to making the actual demand, this background information would be beneficial for me,” board member Ken Searles said.
The next meeting of the WDGB is scheduled for Feb. 22.
Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at email@example.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77