On Real Estate

Jim Valentine: A river runs through it

Jim Valentine on Real Estate

Jim Valentine on Real Estate

Water is a scarce commodity in Nevada, especially live water running across your property. What would be considered a creek in most states is a river in Nevada.
One of the more dubious examples of Nevada water exploitation of a name involved the Reese River Navigation Company. Many shares of stock were sold, mostly back East, based on the fact that the river showed on the newly-created map of Nevada. The river runs about 18 miles, begins and ends in the same county, and is usually just big enough to move a stick, certainly not a boat no less a steamboat as was pictured in the promotional posters for the stock offering.
Nevada residents know and appreciate the precious commodity of water. It is owned and regulated by the state of Nevada, both underground and surface rights. There are few sizeable rivers in the state, primarily the Truckee, Carson, Walker and Humboldt in the North. They each have tributaries that feed them, some with a steady flow and others that are weather dependent. Historically, ranches located near the water sources to provide stock water as well as irrigation water. Over time they have been sold and divided thus creating the opportunity for residential properties with water features.
If you have surface water that flows across your property, whether from rainfall, or via a creek/river, there are regulations, laws and protocols that govern your use. You are not allowed to increase or impede the flow of such water. That means you can’t just direct it into a pond for your enjoyment, impeding the flow. It doesn’t mean people don’t do it, it’s important to understand that you aren’t allowed to do it. Don’t think, too, that if you can get away with it long enough you have the right. Water doesn’t work that way in Nevada.
You can make a good water flow with pumped water if you have the right to use the water. Such water is commonly seasonal as it is for irrigation. There is a difference between domestic, irrigation, stock water, and quasi-municipal water rights. It is important that you know the difference. Just because you have a well doesn’t mean you can just pump water for your enjoyment. The use of the water is regulated by the State and only for the use you are permitted to use it for.
If you have an artesian well that flows continuously without pumping you can direct the flow of the free flowing water to a beneficial use, or even a pond. There are many such artesian-fed ponds in Northern Nevada that serve as aesthetically pleasing water bodies while helping to recharge the aquifer rather than sending the water down stream.
If you have water that flows across your property you must have a water right to utilize it, you can’t just pump it out. While they exist in other states, some very close to our Western border, there are no Riparian Rights in Nevada. Don’t get caught stealing water, there is a reason that during his time in Northern Nevada, Mark Twain wrote, “Whiskey is for drinking – water is for fighting.”
There are often violations to the water usage laws that aren’t cited, but you should understand that just because they haven’t been cited in the past doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. The laws remain in place and if you are violating them you are always subject to being sanctioned one way or another for your transgression(s). If water flows across your property, proceed with care and understanding if you want to do more than enjoy the tranquil sound of its passage across your land. Water in Nevada is actually real property and it is serious business.
Water in the desert does magic. Protect it and use it wisely.
When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your Real Estate needs… Experience is Priceless!  Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704. dpwtigers@hotmail.com.


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