87°F
weather icon Clear

Nevada Supreme Court holds hearing on Pahrump water order appeal

A decision on water law and the extent of the Nevada State Engineer’s authority over domestic wells is one step closer to reality, with the Nevada Supreme Court recently holding a hearing to take oral arguments from both parties in the appeal lawsuit filed by the engineer’s office over water Order #1293(A).

The water order was issued in Dec. 2017 as a method of curbing the drilling of new domestic wells in Pahrump’s Basin #162. The order created a new requirement for property owners to purchase two-acre feet of water rights and relinquish them back to the state prior to drilling a new domestic well, unless water rights had already been relinquished or dedicated to the property for that purpose.

This prompted immediate resistance from local property owners, real estate agents and well-drilling companies. Together, those opposing the order formed Pahrump Fair Water LLC and filed a lawsuit with a Nevada district court to halt the order. That court decided late last year to overturn the water order, leading to the state engineer’s appeal of that decision.

The matter has been with the Nevada Supreme Court since early this year, with a stay on the lower court’s decision issued, keeping the order in effect until such time as the Supreme Court renders a decision. The case, #77722, has now been submitted for a final ruling.

Due to the significance of the subject at hand and the wide-ranging impact a decision on the case could have, the decision has been placed in the hands of the “en banc” court rather than a smaller panel. In typical cases, a panel of only three Nevada Supreme Court justices is used to make rulings but for the appeal on Order #1293(A) the entire court of all seven justices is being utilized.

Attorney David Rigdon of Taggart and Taggart, LTD, the law firm representing Pahrump Fair Water, explained that the hearing held on Nov. 5 focused primarily on two central arguments, whether the state engineer needed to provide notice and hold a hearing before issuing the order, and whether or not the state engineer had the authority to regulate domestic wells in this manner in the first place.

“Both sides had what we call in the business a ‘hot bench’ with judges regularly interrupting the presentation to ask questions,” Rigdon detailed when asked to provide a brief overview of what occurred at the hearing on Nov. 5. “Most of the questions about the notice were directed at the state engineer’s attorney, while most of the questions about legal authority were directed at us.”

The Nevada Attorney General’s Office, which is representing the state engineer’s office, declined to provide an overview of the Nov. 5 hearing.

However, Rigdon said he felt both sides had made good presentations but there was no way of telling which direction the justices would ultimately turn. He, Pahrump Fair Water and the state engineer’s office, as well as the many local property owners and other stakeholders involved, will simply have to wait to see how the Nevada Supreme Court rules.

For those who would like to listen to the oral arguments made during the Nevada Supreme Court hearing visit bit.ly/2QAokKH

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

THE LATEST
Got the best tacos in town? How to enter Pahrump Taco Fest 2024

Tastebuds are set to be dancing in delight as the Pahrump Taco Fest makes its much-anticipated return to the valley. There is still time for competitors to sign up for a chance at the coveted title of best tacos in town.

Youths can now remain in care of kin under foster care changes

The new change paves a path to allow family members who are caring for a child to access the same financial resources from the state as traditional foster care providers.

GALLERY: What you missed at the Community Baby Shower

The 3rd annual event included activities and games, such as face painting, Find the Baby and Don’t Say Bay-Bee, adding an element of fun.

Plan for medical waste treatment plant draws public outcry

A proposal by MediWaste Disposal LLC to bring a medical waste treatment facility to the valley has touched off a wave of public unrest, with a crowd of Pahrump residents flocking to the latest Nye County Commission meeting to express their displeasure.

3 motorcyclists killed in US 95 crash near Goldfield

Three motorcyclists who died in a crash along US 95 about 2 miles south of Goldfield last week have been identified as Benny Hall, 52, of Tonopah; Jeffery Hicks, 72, of Goldfield; and Frank Winkler, 54, of Linton, Ind.

How Pahrump is remembering its heroes this Memorial Day weekend

Though it has become widely known as the unofficial kickoff of summer, two local veterans’ organizations are helping ensure the real meaning of Memorial Day is not lost among the fun of pool parties and cookouts.

Groundbreaking set for new Tonopah elementary school

A ground-breaking ceremony is set for the construction of the new $25 million Tonopah Elementary School beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29

Nye schools seek retirees to fill some critical vacancies

Even as school officials announced the retirement of more than a dozen teachers and other personnel on Monday night, they hope some veteran workers and retirees will consider returning to fill essential roles in the district.