April 3,2023 — Nevada is the nation’s driest state. It faces critical water access issues, particularly in the southern region. To address these challenges, lawmakers are considering water-related proposals this session.
Assembly Bill 220, sponsored by the Joint Interim Standing Committee on Natural Resources, seeks to empower the Southern Nevada Water Authority to limit residential water use and gradually transition homes with septic systems to municipal sewer systems, enhancing water recycling efforts.
Senate Bill 176, sponsored by Senator Pete Goicoechea, aims to allow the state to buy back over-appropriated groundwater rights, providing a softer landing for those impacted by the water rights hierarchy based on senior rights. This legislation is particularly relevant for junior water rights holders, who under Nevada’s water law, risk losing their water access based on their position in the water priority system. The Nature Conservancy supports this bill, saying it could help prevent groundwater basins from being pumped dry by junior right holders whose surface water has been called.
Lastly, Assembly Bill 387, introduced by Assemblyman Howard Watts III, requires the state engineer to consider the best available science when making decisions about groundwater resources. The bill intends to clarify the statute and ensure that the state can make decisions that protect water resources in the long term and prevent their decline.
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