Nevada seeks to buy and permanently retire water rights

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October 26, 2023 — The State of Nevada has secured $25 million in federal funds to encourage irrigators to voluntarily reduce their water usageOpens in a new tab.. This initiative mirrors efforts in other Colorado River Basin states and aims to support entities interested in buying and retiring state-issued water rights in areas where water resources are scarce. The goal is to remove these water allotments from the state’s records.

Six organizations, including the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Nevada Land Trust, submitted applications for this program, requesting a combined total of just over $65 million in funding.¬† With applications exceeding the federal funding by $40 millionOpens in a new tab., a special advisory committee will review the applications and provide input to Nevada’s natural resources agency and Conserve NevadaOpens in a new tab., the organization responsible for distributing the grants. The state anticipates issuing the grants shortly after the advisory board meets on October 26th.

What sets Nevada’s buy-back program apart from other states’ efforts to pay farmers not to irrigate is that water rights will be permanently retired.¬† Many water managers view this program as a test case for the establishment of a permanent water rights buyback program, which could have far-reaching implications for addressing water scarcity issues.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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