A study released in February 2008 by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego said there's a 50 percent chance that Lake Mead, which straddles the Arizona-Nevada state line, could run dry by 2021.
Irrigated Farm Land, Cattle Ranch Operations All Require Water Rights
H.R. 5088. “It would require a permit from the federal government to essentially do anything with my land,” said Jim Chilton Jr. of the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, who owns a 50,000-acre ranch near the Mexican border. “Bottom line: It will control any drop of water in every backyard, every puddle.”
Food and water, the basics to sustaining life have a broad secure market. It is estimated that that the world’s population will grow by another three billion hungry people over the next twenty five short years.
Irrigated agriculture farm and ranch land, and the control of Water Rights, when managed right, these limited resources have little long term, downside risk. The future growth in demand is virtually guaranteed. Many basins are already designated or closed to additional Water Rights being allocated. Priority dates will become more important. For a thirsty world, this market will only get tighter.
Nevada is a federal-land state. Lands were generally acquired from the federal government or from other individuals. The first U.S. District Land Office was opened in Carson City, Nevada, in 1864. The BLM, 300 Booth Street, Box 12000, Reno, NV 89520, has records involving transactions through Nevada's land offices. The Nevada State Library, Division of Archives and Records, has Carson County (Utah Territory) land records and land patents for the state. Federal land records for Nevada can also be found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and at the National Archives II (Cartographic Division) in College Park, MD. Water is regulated by The State Engineers Office.
Mining dominated the economy and politics of the state for a half century. In 1866 alone there were 200 mining districts that acted roughly as a court system in that they recorded deeds, transferred titles to claims, drew abstracts, and recorded a variety of land instruments. Documents related to mining and minerals may be found at the county level at the Nevada State Library, Division of Archives and Records. The archives also has mining corporation papers, 1861–1926. Those after 1926 are at the Nevada Secretary of State's Office. Other holdings at the archives include state mine inspection records, 1909–74, for operating mines.
The focus today for many has changed, from mining claims to water rights. The Gold Rush Continues!
Nevada's State Engineer office processes and has control of the decision process for new applications, protests, transfers, changes in use, changes in point of diversion, basin transfers, etc. The State of Nevada, Divisions of Water Resources, engineers office controls water use in Nevada.
There are laws and many test cases and precedents set based on trial case law history.
Nevada Water Rights
Once granted, water rights in Nevada have the standing of both personal and real property, meaning they are conveyed as an appurtenance to real property unless they are specifically excluded in the deed of conveyance. It is possible to change the water's point of diversion, manner of use and place of use by filing the appropriate application with the state engineer.
Appropriative Water Right [Nevada]
Nevada's water law is based on statutes enacted in 1903 and 1905 and are founded on the principal of Prior Appropriation. Unlike some other states, Nevada has a statewide system for the administration of both ground water and surface water. Appropriative water rights are based on the concept of applying water to Beneficial Use and "First in Time, First in Right." Appropriative water rights can be lost through nonuse and they may be sold or transferred apart from the land. Due in large part to the relative scarcity of water in Nevada and numerous competing uses, Nevada has had a thriving market for water transfers for a number of years.
Priority dates do matter and will become far more important in the future.
Western Water Rights wars have always been about supply and demand, this one is no different. It is a big one for our region and it is far from settled. The summary is this, the Colorado River is over drafted and that is The City of Las Vegas's main water source. Las Vegas's answer is to drill wells in the very sparsely populated Nevada Counties to the North Central and Eastern Side of the state, and build a 327 mile long pipe to draft those aquifers. As you might expect there is a great deal of opposition to this plan, the opposing parties include the States of Utah and Idaho.
At a far more basic, down to Earth level, locals in the proposed region to be tapped into are concerned about wells going dry and springs drying up. Most science I have read leads me to believe this is not possible but very likely over time. No one can blame them for standing up for their rights, lifestyle, livelihood, and water.
While the science of today is far ahead of the old water witches armed with forked twigs or brass rods, much remains unknown. Global climate scientists continue to raise questions that put old models and studies in question. Future demographic shifts and increased demand for food will strain existing allocations and systems. The unintended consequences of surface water use, and diversion has created devastating results in some areas already. Today pumping of ground water in some areas of the United States has lowered water tables hundreds of miles away. As water tables drop salinity can become a problem even if there is still water to pump. Recharge rates based in time may be measured in thousands of years. Looking forward one thing is certain, the demand for water will only increase.
Water Rights laws and use are complicated, yet many parcels with water rights are available today, some at very reasonable prices.
Water Rights may be worth more than oil or gold in the not too distant future.
Follow me on Twitter @WaterRightsToo
Chris W. Miller ABR, CRS, GRI Vegas Grand Realty & Property Management Cell 435-862-5951 Office 702-525-0585
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