Assembly considers emergency water permits

Cathleen Allison / Associated Press

Cathleen Allison / Associated Press

Getting quick access to water when it’s needed most is the focus of a bill discussed Tuesday by a Assembly committee.

Presented by Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, Senate Bill 134 is a response to a system flaw revealed last year when ranchers tried to get water for their livestock during a drought in northeastern Nevada and discovered there was no quick way to get permission — even on their own property.

This bill creates an emergency permitting process available when state or federal officials declare a drought emergency in a region. The process could be completed within a week, but the permit is only valid for a year. During that time, the land owner could go through the normal permitting process.

If the request for permanent water rights is not granted, however, the well must be plugged after a year.

For requests on private lands, once the user has a permit to access the water they could begin drilling a well immediately. On public lands, however, the bill would not be as effective at immediate relief because numerous federal procedures must be followed before a well is authorized. The second portion of the bill deals with wildlife guzzlers — man-made contraptions used to collect and store rainwater and distribute that water to nearby wildlife through various drinking mechanisms, such as troughs.

The bill raises the standards of necessary fencing around the guzzlers to prevent animals from getting stuck in the fence and to help stop animals from accessing the water or mechanism in unintended ways.

No action was taken.


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