Residents of Tonopah and surrounding areas soon will have a chance to learn about water rights and some of the specifics of hydrographic basins in the northern part of the county.
As part of water education and outreach, Nye County officials, in cooperation with the Nevada Water Resources Association, plan a class on hydrographic basin health in Tonopah. A brainchild of Nye County Water District contractor Oz Wichman, a one-day pilot event will focus on manners of use, economic development and factors that may affect the value of water rights.
“The nature of the class is to service people on some specific down-to-earth issues,” Wichman said after presenting a preliminary plan at the Nye County Water District Governing Board meeting.
The NWRA has sponsored water rights classes across the state, but Wichman said the upcoming session will encompass basins within a 100-mile radius of Tonopah and highlight basin health as opposed to general Nevada water issues.
“The fundamentals would be basic basin health, it wouldn’t be so much geared toward the water rights, it would be more particular to a circumstance in a basin or a set of basins today. A snapshot in time, if you will,” he said.
Hugh Ricci, president of Ricci Engineering, Ltd., and retired Nevada state engineer and Jay Dixon, principal hydrologist and permitting engineer at Kinross Gold Corporation, will volunteer their time to teach the class, according to the document presented to the Nye County Water District Governing Board.
“There seems to be some confusion about the differences in how water rights are managed in basins throughout central Nevada and why each basin can vary significantly,” Dixon said. “We want to help folks understand why you can get new water rights in one basin that is designated but not another and how this affects the cost of buying and moving water rights around in these basins. We want to use actual rulings and orders as specific examples in hopes that people will feel more comfortable in making the right decisions as it pertains to water resources for whatever manner of use they may have.”
Additionally, Wichman said the program could cover some of the hydrographic basins such as Silver Peak that span into neighboring counties.
“So, I set basins in 100-miles radius of Tonopah, that would include some basins in the Goldfield area which aren’t necessarily Nye County, so I would be interested in instruction from the board … because these basins are not in Nye County, but there’s portions of these basins that fall in Nye County or they are adjacent to basins that have an impact on the economic scope in the Tonopah area.”
During the Tuesday meeting, members of Nye County Water District Governing Board approved the requested $3,000 budget that is supposed to cover fuel, lodging, copying and advertising expenses.
“Education is education. I think it’s important to get this out because it’s just the stepping stone. This is the first one of what I conceive many,” board member Dan Sweeney said.
All class materials for the class will be vetted through the Nevada Division of Water Resources and Nevada Water Resources Association, Wichman said. A 2014 report, Water Resources and Basin Summaries, will provide the basis for framing basic basin health, he added.
It’s not yet clear when the class will take place, but according to the documents, it will be slated before the agricultural community in the northern part of the county starts springtime farming.
The proceeds from the event will go to NWRA to fund more public outreach, Wichman said.