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Groundwater management plan to focus on over appropriation

The Nye County Water District Governing Board wants to determine the extent of water overappropriation in Basin 162 as the groundwater management plan is moving along.

In an effort to bring water levels in Basin 162 into balance, members of the board last week decided to fill out table 3 and come up with a draft proposal for State Engineer Jason King based on that information.

Table 3 is one of the eight items that were carved out of the groundwater management plan by Nye County commissioners in January and sent to the water board. It addresses adjustment of overallocation by crediting reuse, recharge and over-medication of water rights in Basin 162.

Additionally, members of the board also decided to move on with the water level measurement program and evaluation of redistribution of production well pumping as some areas of the valley have a steady drop in the water level, according to the data provided by officials.

“Those items will move forward as the budget will allow,” board contractor Oz Wichman said following the meeting.

To address physical infrastructure in the groundwater management plan, Wichman said officials will look into board finances during this year’s budget cycle to find out if they can get services of a professional engineer.

Other items that had been bounced back to the water board by county commissioners at the January meeting included conduction of an aggressive water education, adoption of a water conservation plan, construction of rapid infiltration basins (RIBs) in areas of declining water levels, creation of incentives for domestic well owners to a utility, investment in existing and future development agreements.

After several other items that fall outside of the purview of the county commissioners had been sent to King, county Water District General Manager Darrell Lacy penned a letter to King outlining commissioners’ action on the item.

“I was instructed to do so by the (Board of County Commissioners) when they were discussing the agenda item. They voted to send some of the items to DWR and wanted me to document and inform him of the BOCC action,” Lacy said in an email.

Among the items that were sent to King were a requirement for meters on new domestic wells which would limit new domestic wells to 0.5 an acre foot per year, education of new well owners on the use of supplemental water rights, proposal of aquifer storage and recovery, allowing utilities to put back new infrastructure with Public Utilities Commission approval to reach more lots and a conservation credit program for water rights.

“Most of the recommendations are not ready to implement and the vote recognized that additional information was needed,” the letter reads. “While the vote did not endorse all of the recommendations, the ones that passed have sufficient merit to justify additional work and discussion. Once the details, cost and implementation strategy are complete the BOCC would like to have additional public discussion on each recommendation as part of an implementation and code adoption process.”

Pahrump currently has 60,000 acre feet of paper water rights that were given out by King that allow to pump water with the exception of domestic wells. The valley also has approximately 20,000 acre feet of recharge. Officials said to balance the water in the Pahrump Valley they need to get overallocated water rights off the books.

King previously said the pumpage in Pahrump Valley stands between 13,000 to 14,000 acre feet. Pahrump isn’t overpumping, however King said that overallocated water rights in Basin 162 could bring the town to a critical level.

According to the documents, completing table 3 and clarifying the extent of overappropriation represents several subtasks which will take several months to complete and will involve coordination and staff time commitments of the Nye County Water District Governing Board, Nye County Planning Department, the Nevada Division of Water Resources and to some extent, utility companies in Pahrump and the Nye County Public Works Department.

“The most effective thing we can do as a body is take control locally and get the problem fixed,” water board Chairman Greg Dann said.

The subtasks outlined in the documents include identifying overdedication of water rights to each assessors’ parcel number and providing overmedication potential; identifying existing reuse projects and reuse potential; and identifying existing recharge projects and providing projected recharge potential.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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