Settlement on tap for water squabble | NevadaAppeal.com

Settlement on tap for water squabble

by Susie Vasquez

Douglas County could transfer ownership of the 32.5 acre feet of water rights purchased from Eagle Valley’s Lompa Ranch to Carson City as part of an agreement hammered out by Douglas and Carson City officials.

Carson City officials will, in turn, transfer ownership of the same number of municipal water rights to Douglas County’s well near Topsy Lane.

Douglas County commissioners approved the agreement Thursday. It will be forwarded to Carson City’s Board of Supervisors for approval in September.

Bob Nunes, Douglas County’s community development director, said he had every reason to believe the transaction would be completed.

“This is a win-win,” he said. “Douglas County will get the quasi-municipal rights it needs at the Topsy Lane well, and Carson City will get agricultural rights they can retire.”

In June, Douglas County purchased the Lompa Ranch water rights in Eagle Valley, which were to be transferred to the Topsy Lane well for commercial development. The area in question includes Wal-Mart and about half of the Carson Valley Plaza in Douglas County, Nunes said.

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Because they are agricultural rights, Douglas officials would have to appeal to Nevada’s Water Resources Division to convert them to quasi-municipal water rights before they could be used, he said.

Carson City engineer Larry Werner called the agreement a workable solution. Only so much water can be physically pumped out of the aquifer, and Carson City is approaching that level of use.

Carson officials are concerned with the transfer of agricultural rights into municipal rights, and if the trade is completed, Werner expects the Lompa rights to be taken off the market.

“Ours is a supply issue, not a water-rights issue,” he said. “There’s not a lot of room for growth left in Carson City, but our water use is increasing faster than our growth rate.”

The amount of water rights in any basin, thus the amount of water drawn from that basin, is determined by Nevada’s state engineer. Overpermitting occurs in every Nevada basin. Some of those permitted water rights aren’t used, so this method helps get the available water to consumers when it’s needed, Werner said.