Timeline for using water for beneficial use ‘worrisome,’ Carson City official says
The Nevada Division of Water Resources held the second of three public workshops on upcoming regulations concerning time limits to put water to beneficial use.
The regulations could affect municipalities such as Carson City which acquire water rights well in advance of anticipated population growth.
Assembly Bill 62, passed by the 2019 Nevada Legislature, requires the state engineer to adopt regulations on the completion of work and the application of water to beneficial use.
The bill sets a five-year deadline for completion of construction and 10 years for an application to put the water to beneficial use once an application to appropriate water is approved.
“The 10-year clock is a little worrisome for beneficial use,” said Eddy Quaglieri, Carson City water utility manager, after the Carson City workshop on Monday.
Cities and counties plan ahead and project water use, but some factors, such as a recession and drop in development, are out of their control.
“It is straightforward for municipalities to plan and program drilling of wells, but what they can’t plan is proof of beneficial use,” said Bruce Scott, principal, Resource Concepts Inc., during public comment.
Quaglieri liked an idea brought up by several people at the workshop to tie beneficial use to a local government’s water plan, which must be updated every five years.
An attorney with Taggart & Taggart, Ltd., a Carson City law firm specializing in water law, suggested plans be used as “substantial evidence” of working toward beneficial use.
The state engineer can grant any number of extensions, each up to five years, to prove beneficial use as long as the applicant provides “proof and evidence of the good faith and reasonable diligence with which the applicant is pursuing the perfection of the application,” according to the law.
Other issues brought up during the workshop were mining operations, which may require water rights ahead of other permitting, which can take years, and hearings, especially as they affect smaller water rights holders.
Micheline Fairbank. deputy administrator, who conducted the workshop, said the regulations would update hearing procedures.
“As an engineer and not an attorney, I’d hate to see the hearing process become so complicated only an attorney could handle it,” said Scott.
The first workshop was held in Las Vegas and the third is scheduled for today in Elko.
Fairbank said the water division will accept written comments until Nov. 27 and staff plans to complete draft regulations by spring and then hold further workshops.