State engineer seeks denial of more Lyon water permits

The state water engineer is proposing to deny any future water requests within the Stagecoach and Dayton Valley basins, but some builders say more work is needed when it comes to water rights.

In the Dayton Valley, there is twice as much water allocated for use than what is available. In Stagecoach, the water allocated is three times greater than what is estimated to be available, according to a national water report.

State Engineer Hugh Ricci said this needs to change.

That means developers in the Dayton Valley and Stagecoach, located in the fastest growing county in the nation, would have to obtain water rights already in existence and in good standing.

Ricci said no new water permits have been issued of late, so the order cements into place what is being done, while also keeping the water authority from overallocating in the future. Water permitting is a legal system of allocating water from a source to users. The Dayton Valley proposed order has an exception for commercial, industrial or stock animal water requests that are 1,800 gallons or less per day.

Dwight Millard, owner of Millard Realty and Construction, said that at this time the proposed order isn't the most important issue. What he and other builders are concerned about is transferring water uses, such as from agricultural use to municipal.

"Builders have big concerns about how we're going to meet water needs in the Dayton Valley in the future," he said Wednesday. "The state engineer is cutting agricultural to municipal transfers and this may or may not be acceptable to everyone, including the ag people."

The state engineer said the reasons for the over appropriation are complex.

"One is that we may not have had - when these water permits were issued way back when - we didn't have a handle on what the available water was," Ricci said. "A lot may have been for irrigation and an assumption was made that there would be a secondary recharge. Or that not all the water would go to a beneficial use."

Bill Miles, owner of Miles Brothers Construction, said he would like to make sure the 1997 U.S. Geological Survey report is correct in attributing 800 acre-feet annually to the Stagecoach sub-basin and up to 12,525 acre-feet annually to the Dayton Valley basin.

"They do a study, somebody else does a study, you can question their study, but we have to be cautious going forward because water is a precious resource in the Dayton, Stagecoach and Mound House areas," Miles said Wednesday. "We can't continue with uncontrolled growth without knowing where the water is coming from."

Ed Johanson, president of Lakemont Cos., said he's glad this issue is being discussed. He wants to make sure all the information is under consideration. For example, water used in agriculture can go back into ground water, but that depends on how the agriculture is operated.

"Overall the health of the system is important to all of us," he said. "We're interested in making sure the system is well designed for the long term."

He doesn't believe that The Lakes of Dayton Valley at Legado will be affected by this order because his development has existing permits. The Lakes of Dayton Valley has about 600 homes so far. When completed there will be about 2,800.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

If you go

What: The Nevada Division of Water Resources public hearing on proposed orders in the Dayton Valley and Stagecoach basins

When: 7-9 p.m. May 3

Where: Dayton Community Center, 170 Pike St.

For information: Read the proposed orders at or contact the Nevada Division of Water Resources, 684-2800

By the numbers

• The amount of water available annually in the Dayton Valley basin: 9,445-12,525 acre-feet

• The amount of withdrawal from the Dayton Valley basin annually: 24,000 acre-feet

• The amount of water available annually in the Stagecoach basin:

800 acre-feet

• The amount of withdrawal from the Stagecoach basin annually:

2,100 acre-feet

Sources: The State Engineer's Office water permits and the 1997 U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report


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