State to conduct hearing for domestic well users | NevadaAppeal.com

State to conduct hearing for domestic well users

Steve Ranson
sranson@lahontanvalleynews.com

A petition affecting the allotment of water in domestic wells has gathered steam outside of Nye County, which appears to be ground zero for homeowner concerns.

A petition is originating out of both Nye County and Silver Springs to inform water users that either the state engineer or an interim legislative subcommittee committee could make recommendations for regulating the usage of domestic well water to the Legislature when it convenes in February

State Sen. James Settelmeyer, who represents central and western Nevada to include Churchill and Lyon counties, said the Legislature of a legislative committee could either accept recommendations or shelve the entire process.

So far, the Legislative Commission's Subcommittee to Study Water has conducted five meetings in Nevada with the final hearing scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. in the Legislative Building in Carson City, room 3138.

Individuals who wish to comment will be able to do so for a maximum of three minutes during public comments.

Settelmeyer said Friday's hearing will focus on the over appropriated water in the Pahrump Basin (valley) of Nye County, which is about 200 percent over its limit. While residents in both Lyon and Churchill counties are concerned about their own well water, Settelmeyer said the situation is not as bad in other parts of the state as in the Pahrump Valley.

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A copy of the petition was sent to Nevada media stating the following:

"You would likely be interested to know that the state Water Commission is proposing to:

Take 75 percent of every domestic well owner's rightful 2-feet annual allotment, and restrict the remaining 25 percent for use exclusively inside your home.

Enforce a ban on the watering of gardens, lawns, trees, and domestic animals/livestock—including chickens!

Mandate installation of a well meter—at your expense—with potential penalties for "overuse" of your own water!

Water company in areas where water pipes have already been laid in the ground — again, at your expense."

Both Settelmeyer and Susan Joseph-Taylor, deputy administrator of the Division of Water Resources, said, however, the information presented in the petition is full of many inaccuracies.

First, Joseph-Taylor said there is no such thing as the Nevada Water Commission. She said laws changed in 2011, which gave the state engineer the right to curtail water by priority and because many domestic wells were the last to be drilled, the law affects those homeowners more. She also echoed Settelmeyer's concerns and said 11,000 domestic wells exist in Pahrump and if they use the 2-acre feet allowed by law, those wells alone could use more than the estimated perennial yield.

Furthermore, most of the proposal regarding the use of domestic wells is coming from Nye County, not the state.

In addressing the petition's assertion that the state is acting unconstitutional by mandating a person hook up to a private water company, Settelmeyer said Nevada law allows drilled wells that are not within 180 feet of a municipal water system. If within the prescribed footage, Settelmeyer said law requires a hookup.

Petitioners, though, are urging people to sign a petition that may be found at many locations throughout western Nevada including Churchill County.

This article was clarified on Aug. 26.

IN THE KNOW

The following recommendations may be of interest for individuals attending the hearing:

Request the drafting of a bill to provide that at times of curtailment by priority by the Office of the State Engineer, Division of Water Resources (DWR), SDCNR, only outdoor use withdrawals from domestic wells are curtailed and indoor use remains authorized. (See NRS 534.110.) (Jason King, P.E., State Engineer, DWR, SDCNR.) B. Alternatively, request the drafting of a bill to provide that at times of curtailment by the Office of the State Engineer, only withdrawals from domestic wells for outdoor water use are curtailed, with an excepted allowance for outdoor watering of pets and livestock. (Nye County Water District; Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada, Pahrump Utility Co. Inc., and Desert Utilities Inc.)

Request the drafting of a bill to provide that in severely over-appropriated basins and designated critical management areas (CMAs), the Office of the State Engineer may limit withdrawals from new domestic wells to 0.5-acre-feet annually. According to proponent, this restriction would be applicable to “new” domestic wells on parcels that do not currently have a domestic well. This restriction would not be applicable to currently existing domestic wells. (Nye County Water District.)

Alternatively, request the drafting of a bill to provide that no new domestic wells may be drilled in severely over-appropriated basins and designated CMAs. (Discussion at July 11, 2016, meeting in Pahrump)

Request the drafting of a bill to provide that in severely over-appropriated basins and designated CMAs, the Office of the State Engineer may require meters on all new domestic wells. (Nye County Water District.

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