Legislature to work on water bills this session

Assemblywoman Robin Titus, right, speaks with Al Trace, left, of the Dairy Farmers of America, and Norm Frey, retired Churchill County Commissioner, after a business breakfast held by the Churchill Economic Development Authority.

Assemblywoman Robin Titus, right, speaks with Al Trace, left, of the Dairy Farmers of America, and Norm Frey, retired Churchill County Commissioner, after a business breakfast held by the Churchill Economic Development Authority.

Assemblywoman Robin Titus, who represents most of Lyon County and all of Churchill, said this year’s Legislature will be sorting through a plethora of water bills.

Titus, who recently spoke at the business breakfast of the Churchill Economic Development Authority, said water concerns will have her full attention when lawmakers descend on Carson City in February to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

The second-term assemblywoman was instrumental in working with water authorities and irrigation districts in 2015.

“I liked the way you work with the committee and tutored us,” said Ernie Schank president of the board from the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District. I liked what you did with the water issues.”

Titus, who is on the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee, Health and Human Services and Ways and Means, summarized eight water bills in their present BDR (bill draft request) format.

“This (water) is one of the big issues of this session,” Titus said, adding subcommittees and possibly the full Assembly and Senate will be looking at the control of domestic wells, which the state engineer wants.

An interim legislative subcommittee to study Nevada’s water law held its final meeting in late August and approved five BDRs after listening to three hours of public comment, mostly from domestic well owners.

The Subcommittee to Study Water entertained ideas for more than one dozen bills, including one to allow the state engineer during a curtailment to make an exception for domestic well owners’ indoor water use and another to limit new well owners in distressed basins to half an acre foot of water. This riled up landowners who use domestic wells, specifically in the Silver Springs area of Lyon County and in the Pahrump Valley.

Titus gave a rundown on the water-related BDRs and what each bill focuses on:

Senate Bill (SB) 21 (Senate Government Affairs) calls for abolishing the New County Water District and repealing provisions governing the acquisition, storage, sale and distribution of water by the district and the authority to levy and collect certain taxes.

SB 47 (Senate Natural Resources) proposes to revise the provision relating to certain applications to appropriate water and provisions relating to certain fees collected by the state engineer; change the time period in which the state engineer must declare a forfeiture of certain water rights and provision relating to temporary permits to appropriate water; look at provisions relating to the use of domestic wells; and examine how permits are issued, and how wells are capped regarding domestic wells.

SB51 (Senate Committee on Natural Resources) takes a look at revising the adjudication of certain water rights and requirements reacting to the notice of a pending determination of a certain water right; revising requirements for hydrological surveys and maps prepared by the state engineer; requiring certain people to pay certain costs for a hearing on objections; and authorizing a district court to require parties to file a revised map under certain circumstances.

SB 73 (Senate Committee on Natural Resources) proposes to revise certain provisions pertaining to domestic wells; declare the policy of the State of Nevada to manage conjunctively all sources of water in the sales; and revise certain provisions relating to groundwater management plans and critical management areas.

SB 74 (Senate Committee on Natural Resources) provides for the collection of rainwater under certain circumstances and authorizes the state engineer to consider a declaration of drought when determining whether to grant certain extensions. The BDR also calls for the revision of certain provisions relating to the Water Planning Section of the Division of Water Resources relating to the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

AB (Assembly Bill) 50 (Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining). Under existing laws, the State Environmental Commission regulates community and public water systems, while Section 3 of this bill authorizes the commission to establish fees for any service the commission must carry out relating to community and public water systems.

Under existing law, a person who owns, controls or operates a public water system is liable for civil penalty and may be subject to an administrative fine per day for certain violations.

Three sections of this bill will authorize the commission to adopt regulations and establish fees relating to its review of subdivisions and to make conforming changes. Section 1 would require the deposit of fees in a separate account of the State General Fund.

AB52 (Assembly Committee on Government Affairs). The existing law sets forth provisions for and the ownership of geothermal resources. Section 3 of this bill defines “dissolved mineral resource.” Sections 6-10 of AB52 will provide for the issuance by the administrator of a permit to drill a dissolved mineral well or operate a dissolved mineral resource project in the same manner as permits are issued for geothermal wells and resource projects.

AB79 (Assembly Committee on Government Affairs). The Las Vegas Valley Water District Act was amended during the 29th Special session of the Legislature to designate the district and Southern Nevada Water Authority as the exclusive water polices of water service for the Garnet Valley Ground Water Basin in Clark County. Before July, 2021, the Legislature must review the designation of the district and the SNWA as the exclusive providers of water service for the Garnett Valley Water Basin and implement and administer certain economic development financing proposals authorized during that special section,


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