Several pieces of water rights-related legislation are working their way through the Nevada legislature.
Assembly Bill 73, effective upon passage, puts into NRS 533 and 535, language that gives DWR the right to enter the land where water is being diverted or used or where any dam or obstruction is situated. It also makes it clear under 534.090 that only certificated rights can be forfeited.
Amendatory language of the bill simply declares that this has
been the practice since 1947 and is intended to clarify rather than change the existing statute to promote stability and consistency in the administration of 533 and 534.
New language clarifies the issue that a 4-year nonuse letter does NOT have to be sent to a permitteebefore forfeiting in those instances where the permitteefiled an extension of time to prevent a forfeiturebut then doesn’t put the water to
beneficial use or file another extension of time within the one year timeframe.
Domestic Well Credit Program language change that removes the requirement of having to hold a hearing on a domestic well credit program before implementing such a program. However the State Engineer must issue an order and anyone feeling aggrieved may appeal that decision.
Assembly Bill 114, effective July 1, changes the permit fee for changes of point of diversion and place of use only of an existing irrigation right to a flat fee of $750.
Assembly Bill 115, effective July 1, 2011, rewrites NRS 533.370 as a result of the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision in the Great Basin Water Network v. State Engineer appeal. It gives the State Engineer 2 years from the final date of
protest in which to act upon an application.
If the State Engineer doesn’t take action on the application, it remains active until approved or rejected.
If the State Engineer hasn’t approved, denied or held a hearing on an application within 7 years after the final date for filing a protest, he is required to republish the application at a time immediately preceding the time at which he is ready to act on the application. The cost of the republication must be paid by the applicant.
These new changes do not go into effect until July 1, 2011. The division and water right applicants need to be cognizant of the two sets of criteria.
Assembly Bill 419, effective July 1, provides a tool to deal with over appropriated basins. It says the state engineer may designate any basin where the groundwater withdrawals consistently exceed the perennial yield of the basin. It also says the state engineer shall designate a basin upon receipt of a petition by a majority of the water right holders in the basin (not domestic well owners).
After a basin has been designated a critical management area, a petition for the approval of a groundwater management plan for the basin may be submitted to the State Engineer by the majority of the water right holders in the basin that sets forth the necessary steps for removal of the critical management area designation.
If after 10 consecutive years of being designated a Critical Management Area and a groundwater management plan has not been approved for the basin, the State Engineer shall order that withdrawals, including domestic wells, be regulated
Also, Assembly Bill 422, effective July 1, provides that a public body may lease a water right owned by the public body to an owner or holder of a water right who, as determined by the State Engineer, is over pumping.