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Water District approves usage for four medical pot facilities

Nye County residents are one step closer to having access to medical marijuana following a water district meeting Monday.

Water impact plans were approved for three cultivating facilities and one dispensary in Pahrump by the Nye County Water District. The heavily regulated industry is in its infancy stage in Nye County and officials have taken more stringent precautionary measures than the state.

Not only has Nye County required that each facility obtain a special use permit which requires a transportation and security plan, officials also require a detailed water management plan. Southern Nye County, which is largely populated by Pahrump, obtains water from the Pahrump Basin which is fed by two underground sources; an alluvial fan and basin-fill aquifer.

County consultant Oz Wichman has asserted that though portions of the alluvial fan aquifer level are rising, water levels in certain areas of the basin-fill aquifer are declining. That information, together with recommendations from the state water engineer’s office to address issues that could contribute to a future water shortage, have caused officials to explore water usage and water saving measures for residents and businesses alike.

It is not disputed that water rights have been over-allocated by the state. Should all of those rights be exercised, there would without doubt be a diminishment of the underground water source.

A water management plan, or water impact plan, is just one of the monitoring tools the county has implemented to address future issues.

Of the four facilities, two are supplied with water and sewer services from Utilities, Inc. The private for-profit company is mandated to comply with state water and sewer regulations, which govern consumption rates to preserve water supply. The other facilities obtain their water from private wells, fed by the aquifers, for domestic and commercial use.

Though the imposition of additional ratio-relinquishment of water rights for the approval of the water plans were discussed, no action was taken on the suggestion. Policy will be established by the water district governing board for future ratio-relinquishment of water rights for any new business.

Board member Michael Lach insisted that the water district board have the opportunity to make recommendations on water usage plans prior to approval by the board of county commissioners.

Under state law, four different types of medicinal marijuana facilities are permitted in Nevada. They consist of cultivation, processing, laboratory and dispensary facilities. To date, Nye County has not received an application for a laboratory.

The opening of the dispensary hinges on the acquisition of cultivated medicinal marijuana and the issuance of final state approval which could be just a few short months away.

All Nye County medicinal marijuana related facilities are required by the Board of County Commissioners to comply with similar levels of reporting and accountability as gaming and liquor facilities.

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