Support of Senate Bill 81 needed
Honorable members of the Assembly,
Senate Bill 81 is crafted to help local groups address water issues and the challenges of a Critical Management Area or Area of Active Management designation. The Nye County Board of County Commissioners and the Nye County Water District Governing Board have chartered a Groundwater Management Plan Advisory Committee to try and solve the complicated issues of the Basin 162 (Pahrump). This basin has been the poster child of Nevada for over appropriation of water and unmanaged growth. There are over 60,000 afa of water rights and over 11,000 domestic wells in a basin with only 20,000 afa of perennial yield.
Nevada DWR has worked with the Water District and the advisory committee to help identify possible solutions, if the current tools that DWR can use are applied in this basin it would ruin all economic activity. To regulate solely on the basis of priority date would have a draconian impact on domestic wells, commercial business, construction and housing with junior water rights. This is no longer an agricultural area but a struggling community with the highest unemployment rate in Nevada.
SB 81 is designed to give additional tools to communities that find themselves in a critical situation like Pahrump. Each community that gets into this type of situation will need a plan tailored to the needs of that basin, not a one-size-fits-all approach that we have in current Nevada water law. There are a few vocal members of the community who think everything proposed is an attempt to take their domestic wells. They don’t understand that under current water law, they have junior priority dates and will be subject to severe curtailment if DWR must regulate based on seniority.
A Groundwater Management Plan crafted under the authority of a bill like SB 81 is their best chance to maintain their current lifestyle. We don’t have a plan yet, what we do know is DWR has said that many of the ideas proposed cannot be implemented under current statutes.
Don’t listen to the vocal minority, the Nye County Water District Governing Board has passed a letter of support for SB 81, see attached. Those of us who have worked for years trying to address these complicated issues ask you to please pass SB 81 and give us a chance to save our community.
Sincerely, Darrell Lacy
General Manager, Nye County Water District