September 4, 2017
Water rights are a big deal in a state known more for its arid mountain and rocky vistas than lush rain-soaked lands. In Nevada, water rights ownership has long been an important issue. The conversation is heating up with news that state lawmakers have passed a bill requiring claimants of a pre-statutory vested water right to submit proof of their appropriation — or right to use that water.
That proof has to be submitted to the state engineer on or before Dec. 31, 2027 — in 10 years — so you have time to find proof of the claim. However, if a claimant fails to submit the required proof by that deadline, the law will deem the water right abandoned.
According to the state's Division of Water Resources, pre-statutory vested water rights are those that predate the law requiring a permit from the state engineer for the use of water. Key dates for different water sources include March 1, 1905, for surface water; prior to March 22, 2013, for artesian groundwater; and prior to March 25, 1939, for percolating groundwater.
State Engineer Jason King, in announcing the new rule, noted that in order to manage water in Nevada it is "critical we know exactly how much water is committed to and being used — either through the permitting process or through the adjudication of pre-statutory vested rights."
The key, he explained, is to manage water by accurately matching use to estimated availability. "That is why it is so important for everyone to officially file their valid claims of pre-statutory water use. With that knowledge, and by using the best available technology to measure annual water recharge and monitor the health of our aquifers, we are able to make smart, more informed decisions to best manage our water."
The multi-page form can be found at water.nv.gov online: click on "forms" and select "Proof of appropriation of water." Or you can call the Nevada Division of Water Resources at 775-684-2800.
Source: Nevada Division of Water Resources
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