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Pahrump Fair Water triumphs in water order lawsuit

In a glowing moment of absolute triumph, Nye County Commissioner-elect Debra Strickland announced to the community during the most recent Nye County Commission meeting that Nevada State Engineer Order #1293A has been rescinded.

Strickland, who was elected to the commission District 5 seat after winning the Republican primary in June, is just one of many local residents involved in Pahrump Fair Water LLC. The group was formed in January, almost immediately following the issuance of Order #1293.

The order restricted the drilling of new domestic wells in Pahrump’s Basin #162 unless water rights were relinquished in support of the well, an action that sparked a wave of turbulence in the community as property owners scrambled to understand how it would affect them. For some, water rights had already been relinquished in association with their properties but for many others, they were suddenly staring at a huge bill to purchase water rights if they wished to develop their land.

Opposition to Order #1293 coalesced in the establishment of Pahrump Fair Water which then hired law firm Taggart and Taggart LTD and took the matter to the courts. The group, made up of real estate brokers, well drillers and others, had been fighting to repeal Order #1293 and its subsequent amendment, Order #1293A, for months and it appears that they have now succeeded.

“Order #1293 and Order #1293A were rescinded yesterday at hearing. We were extremely ecstatic to hear that happen,” Strickland said with obvious enthusiasm during the Nov. 9 commission meeting, speaking as a member of the public. “I don’t believe that we will see any repercussion from this. The judge was adamant in his decisions.”

Strickland said she also wanted to notify the community that Nevada State Engineer Jason King has decided to retire. This, along with the end of Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval’s terms, has created some uncertainty as to what the future might hold for water in the Pahrump basin but she said she and her family are optimistic and fully intend to continue forward with their well drilling business. With Order #1293 rescinded, Strickland noted in conclusion, “My husband… and my daughter… are driving to Las Vegas to put in 30 intent to drill (notices) for people who asked to be on the list, knowing this might happen. They have been waiting all year. It’s a big deal, it was a big fight and I am hoping that it’s over.”

The state engineer’s office has 30 days from the filing of the judgment to file an appeal. According to Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Public Information Officer Jo Ann Kittrell, the engineer’s office has not yet received the order in this case and as such, it did not have comment to offer on the result. She also noted that no announcement has been made as to a specific retirement date for King.

The Nye County clerk’s office, which acts as the clerk for the Fifth Judicial District Court in which the Pahrump Fair Water appeal was heard, has also yet to receive the final order in this case. However, the clerk’s office was able to provide a case summary that gave a smattering of detail as to the result of the hearing that took place Nov. 8 at 10 a.m in front of Judge Steven Elliott.

“Court states PFW (Pahrump Fair Water) has standing,” the summary reads. “State engineer’s report has some flaws. Court grants petitioners relief requested. Mr. Rigdon will prepare the order.” Dave Rigdon is one of the attorneys for Taggart and Taggart, the firm representing Pahrump Fair Water.

Once officially filed, further details on the order rescinding Order #1293 and #1293A will be included in an upcoming edition of the Pahrump Valley Times.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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