SNWA has acquired in-state groundwater
On March 22, 2012, the Nevada State Engineer issued a ruling on the Southern Nevada Water Authority's (SNWA) applications for groundwater rights in four east-central Nevada valleys, granting the agency a total of 83,988 acre-feet of water annually. This represented 5,233 acre-feet more water than was permitted in the previous ruling, reaffirming the SNWA's assertion that significant available water resources exist in those groundwater basins.
"While the Nevada State Engineer’s ruling did not grant the SNWA the full amount requested through our applications, it did increase the amount we received by approximately 5,000 acre-feet, which is not insubstantial," said SNWA Senior Deputy General Manager John Entsminger. "We appreciate that the Nevada State Engineer’s decision was driven by science and law, taking into consideration the best available hydrologic studies."
The SNWA must still secure environmental permits from the Bureau of Land Management and major construction activities will commence only when conditions warrant; however, the ruling represents a critical safety net for Southern Nevada against continued drought on the Colorado River.
"The State Engineer finds Southern Nevada needs a water resource that is independent of the Colorado River and that it would not be advisable for the Applicant to continue to rely upon the Colorado River for 90 percent of Southern Nevada’s water when that resource is over-appropriated, highly susceptible to drought and shortage, and almost certain to provide significantly less water to Southern Nevada in the future," wrote Nevada State Engineer Jason King in the ruling.
"This is another step in a permitting process that will help provide a greater degree of certainty for our long-term water supply," added Entsminger. "The staged development approach is both reasonable and conservative, reflecting the Nevada State Engineer’s commitment to allowing beneficial use of water while protecting our state’s water resources. We look forward to demonstrating that this critical supply can be managed responsibly in a way that serves our community’s needs without undermining Nevada’s environmental values."
Based upon current usage patterns and stretched through reuse, the water rights would be enough to meet the annual water needs of nearly 325,000 single-family Southern Nevada households. Studies have indicated that the typical household uses an average of approximately 12,000 gallons per month.
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