56°F
weather icon Overcast

District discusses likely water fight

Nye County may be preparing for a legal fight over state legislation currently making its way through Carson City.

Following a March 23 meeting, the Nye County Water District scheduled a budget workshop hearing to discuss increasing allocations for legal services and an increase in the amount charged for parcel fees in its 2015-16 budget.

The board favored an increase of the $20,000 currently budgeted for legal services to get ready for a potential legal battle over water rights and restrictions proposed by the Nevada Division of Natural Resources water engineer.

Board members Michael Lach and Greg Dann suggested an increase to $50,000 to $100,000 for legal services, for possible future litigation which might be connected to proposed Senate Bills 65 and 81, scheduled for a work session on March 25 and 26.

Dann noted that neither the water district or the groundwater management committee – tasked with formulating a plan to avert water restriction by the state water engineer – have done anything to protect domestic well owners’ rights. Instead, he said, a non-municipal organization, the Private Well Owners Cooperative, has initiated legal action to prevent the state water engineer from reducing domestic well use from two-acre feet per year to one-half-acre foot per year. The lawsuit also asks that the state water engineer be prohibited from exercising any control over water rights “appurtenant to their rights in their land.”

Not supported by the board or the public was an increase of the current parcel fee of $5 to $30. Board members Michael Lach and Greg Dann spoke at length against the increase proposed by Chairman John MacLaughlin.

Lach said he would favor an increase if it were tied to a specific project that would benefit taxpayers and protect the water supply. “But I can’t get behind an increase for the sake of an increase,” he said.

Dann also opposed the parcel fee increase and instead suggested the water district initiate a water right tax to help combat an over-appropriation of water rights often cited by the state water engineer as a threat to the Pahrump aquifer.

According to a presentation given by MacLaughlin, the current $5 parcel fee on the district’s 52,300 lots generates $261,608 in revenue for the district. An increase of that fee to $30 would generate $1,569,000 for the district.

MacLaughlin said the additional revenue would pay for two new vehicles and accessories, totaling $57,800; an increase for an administrative assistant to work 40 hours per week, with benefits, raising the budget line item by $13,677.50; an additional geoscience hydrologist position for a total increase of $76,135.68, and a “Tech Incentive” line of $6,000. Vehicle operations expenses are proposed to be raised an additional $10,000 from $3,000 to $13,000. Also proposed is an additional $523,000 for well drilling and monitoring; $100,000 for the groundwater management plan committee; $250,000 for future studies and $3,000 for unforeseen purchased “or not specifically itemized.”

Lach said there was no justification for the parcel fee increase. “We don’t just just take money, put it there, and then find a way to use it,” he said.

No action was taken by the board of the proposed budget. Instead a public budget workshop session will be held on April 27 at 9 a.m., followed by the regular monthly meeting at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the County Commission Chambers, 2100 E. Walt Williams Drive, in Pahrump.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Pahrump community partakes of Photos with Santa

The Salvation Army headquarters in Pahrump was abuzz with activity on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 26, 27 and 28 as members of the Nye County Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace worked to bring some holiday cheer to the valley while also raising much-needed funds to support its nonprofit mission.

Assemblyman Hafen decries state redistricting, files lawsuit

The election of Pahrump’s Nevada State Assembly representative just got a bit more complicated, thanks to the approval of a redistricting proposal by the Legislature last month.

No support from Pahrump committee for Rough Hat Nye solar project

The evening of Tuesday, Nov. 30 was a long one for members of the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee, which convened a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. and did not adjourn until around 9:30 p.m. that night.

Pahrump man facing first-degree arson charge

A Pahrump man is facing a first-degree arson charge after admitting to setting his home on fire.

Local Salvation Army hit by thieves

As Pahrump’s Salvation Army prepares to serve families in need during the holiday season, approximately $500 worth of new toys set aside for its annual Angel Tree program were recently stolen, along with Christmas decorations and items being stored for the Kiwanis Club and Pahrump’s Sleep In Heavenly Peace organization.

Pahrump community comes together for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for appreciation and for hundreds of Pahrump area residents and visitors, there was plenty to be grateful for this year at the Pahrump Holiday Task Force’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Pahrump Valley Academy virtual town hall set for Saturday

Throughout much of 2019 and into 2020, a group of local residents hoping to add a new educational option to the valley worked diligently toward establishing Pahrump Valley Academy, which would have been the valley’s very first public charter school, only to have the proposal nixed in early 2020.

Rotary Club encouraging students to read

The Pahrump Rotary Club has performed countless community service projects since its inception in 1987.