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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

Colorado RiverNews and informationOn The Water FrontSouthern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA)Virgin RiverVirgin Valley Water Board (VVWB)

Virgin Valley Water Board Out-of-Step With Water Availability

Virgin Valley Water Board from left to right Kevin Brown, manager Bo Bingham, attorney and Rich Bowler, Board Member at the Virgin Valley Water District Board Meeting: September 2018 Photo by Andrew Davey

The Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB), Mesquite, NV is putting the cart before the horse when it comes to water management.

Virgin Valley Water Board from left to right, Travis Anderson Nephi Julian, Randy Laug and Ben Davis. Photo by Andrew Davey

During a recent meeting, the water board agreed to pay Glorieta Geoschince, Inc., $61,400 to assist in siting future wells in their service area.

The company will spend six months reviewing published and unpublished reports on geology and hydrology in Virgin Valley and the surrounding area They then combine data into a single database for utilization in geospatial analysis. The result is intended to aid VVWD in placing at least three of its future production well locations.

However, it is highly likely that the VVWB not only is out of the water to acquire but they have exceeded their permitted limits.

To repeat what Nevada-Today has published many times before:

In 1968 the USGS set the perennial groundwater yield for Basin 222 at 3,600 Acre Feet Annually (AFA). The State Engineer reaffirms that amount both in their official records and in correspondence to the VVWB.

On July 25, 2017, Timber Weiss, a water resource specialist for the Nevada Department Division of Conservation and Natural Resources, Division of Water Resources, warned the Water Board that the perennial yield (what can be safely taken annually) for Basin 222 was only 3,600 Acre Feet Annually (AFA). That Basin is the primary source of underground water for the district. Also, that Basin is over-permitted. No new permits are allowed. 

The district is pumping nearly twice that amount.  They already can pump about four times the amount, and they want to pump 21 times that amount.

The Virgin River is their source of water for Irrigation. The Virgin River is government by the Colorado River Compact of 1922 with limits set at 300,000 AFA for Nevada.  The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), will take 453,898 AFA in 2018, 464,156, in 2019, 475,777 in 2020 and 484,944 in 2021.[i]

On June 9, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 47, which declared it a state policy to manage Nevada’s surface and groundwater resources conjunctively, rather than as a single source.  That means that ground water (Basin 222), Virgin River Water, used for local irrigation) and effluent (provided by the city for irrigation) must be managed together. 

The Bill also required the State Water Engineer to prepare a reliable “water budget” inventory of groundwater in each of Nevada’s 256 water basins. 


[i] Southern Nevada water Authority 2018 Water Resource Plan & Water Budget at:



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About Author

Michael McGreer Mesquite, Nevada
Dr. Michael Manford McGreer is managing editor of and writes on issues that impact public policy.

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