Central Nevada water authorities seek applications for voluntary water rights retirements

Central Nevada water authorities seek applications for voluntary water rights retirements
At the Experiment Station’s Great Basin Research & Extension Center, researchers are using a variable rate irrigation system to investigate sorghum’s response to different watering levels. The study is part of a larger project spanning two additional Experiment Station facilities. Photo by Gary McCuin.

The Central Nevada Regional Water Authority (CNRWA) and Humboldt River Basin Water Authority (HRBWA) were recently granted $15 million to purchase and retire groundwater rights from willing sellers. 

The program, the Nevada Water Conservation and Infrastructure Initiative, is meant to purchase and permanently retire groundwater rights from willing sellers in groundwater basins with insufficient water supply to serve all water rights and domestic wells. 

Funding is to be used for over-appropriated and over-pumped groundwater basins in the Central Hydrographic Region and Humboldt River Basin. 

Over-pumped basins are allocated $900 per acre-foot, and over-appropriated basins that are not over-pumped are valued at $350 per acre-foot. Water rights in the Diamond Valley Basin are valued at $800 per acre-foot. 

“The program addresses and avoids conflicts with existing rights or detriments to the public interest and natural resources,” said Jeff Fontaine, the Initiative’s director. “Retiring groundwater rights will help stabilize groundwater levels.”

Funding priorities are for retiring irrigation rights in over-pumped basins subject to curtailment. Purchasing groundwater rights in other over-appropriated basins will also be considered if such purchases mitigate conflicts with existing rights or if there are detriments to natural resources. 

Applications are expected to be available the week of Nov. 27, 2023, and the deadline to apply is January 22, 2024. A list of prospective sellers must be submitted to the state by February 1, 2024. Contact Jeff Fontaine at 775-443-7667 to get an application.

“We encourage those interested in retiring their water rights in these basins to apply sooner rather than later, as it is expected that available funds will exceed the program’s demand,” Fontaine added.

More information will be announced in the near future.

Submitted release.