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Revised water bills to be heard in Senate next week

Two amended proposed state Senate bills governing the allocation of Nevada’s water will be back before the government affairs committee for a vote in the coming weeks.

Senate Bills 65 and 81, authored by the Nevada Division of Water Resources engineer Jason King, proposed expanding his authority to control groundwater as part of a stream definition expansion as well giving his office discretionary, limitless authority to levy sanctions and restrict consumption, in addition to other measures.

The proposed legislation was deemed to be in need of revision on Feb. 11 following testimony before Committee Chairman Sen. Pete Goicoechea.

Notable revisions in Senate Bill 65 include the deletion of “sources of surface streams or groundwater” throughout the document. The wording has been replaced with “stream system.”

The committee must assess whether “stream system” encompasses all sources of water, which would in turn give the state water engineer broader authority than currently permitted.

Also included are increased fees for livestock watering and any other claimed manner of use. Corrected claims will also be assessed a fee under the proposed law.

Unchanged is the discretionary authority granted to the state water engineer to extend time frames for approving beneficial use of water.

Several workshop sessions were held to revise and refine bill language, with the final revision meeting scheduled for March 13 canceled by the Division of Water Resources indicating the bills were ready to go back to the government affairs committee for processing.

Though Goicoechea said that the revised bills will be re-examined by the government affairs committee the week of March 23, the bills were not agendized for the 78th Legislative Session by press time.

The final amended bills are available for inspection at www.water.nv.gov/senate_bills/sb.cfm, together with written requests for amendments received by the state Division of Water Resources during the revision process.

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