Thursday March 28, 2024

Nevada Current

Landowners in Nevada have been more than willing to surrender their groundwater rights in exchange for cash payments thanks to a water conservation program financed by the federal government, said state water regulators — but time and money are running out.

Lack of storage infrastructure, drought, and warming trends have led to long-term over-pumping of groundwater basins in northern and central Nevada. 

Throughout the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority region — an agency created to proactively address water resource issues in the region — there are 25 over-appropriated groundwater basins, eight of which are also over-pumped. 

An over-pumped basin is one that is pumped at a greater rate than it is replenished. For example, Humboldt County in northern Nevada has nearly 760,000 acre-feet of committed groundwater rights, but only about 469,000 acre-feet of water is actually available any given year without depleting the groundwater reservoir. Antelope Valley and the Middle Reese River Valley in Humboldt County have shown “sharply declining groundwater levels,” said Jeff Fontaine, the executive director of the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority and the Humboldt River Basin Water Authority.

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