Commentary - July 23, 2021 - by Ray Hagar
Editor's note: This is a response from Director Brad Crowell after city officals in Fernley took exception to some things Crowell said during an interview with Sam Shad.
As part of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (NDCNR), the Nevada Division of Water Resources (NDWR) is committed to thoughtfully managing the State’s many complex water challenges, while ensuring a vibrant and sustainable water future for all Nevadans. With respect to the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s (USBOR) proposal to line the Truckee Canal, NDWR understands that there are many challenges and complexities this proposed project creates for the City of Fernley. The State of Nevada supports a collaborative effort among all impacted stakeholders to address the various challenges and opportunities presented by the USBOR proposal, and encourage all parties to put forward solutions that work for all communities served by the canal, including Fernley.
In response to the July 28, 2021, letter issued by the City of Fernley, a few key points raised deserve factual clarification.
The City of Fernley states that, “In Nevada all water belongs to the public and is managed by the State, including water diverted and used by the Federal government.” For clarification, the State of Nevada, through the Division of Water Resources, has jurisdiction over the use and reliance on ground and surface waters in Nevada. In other words, NDWR is responsible for ensuring water is being used for specific, approved, and beneficial purposes pursuant to Title 48 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. However, it is important to note that NDWR does not have jurisdiction over water diversions and deliveries within the Newlands Project, as those are controlled by the Orr Ditch Decree, Truckee River Operating Agreement, and the federal court.
Additionally, with respect to water rights, the City of Fernley currently holds rights for a diverse portfolio of water and the State of Nevada fully supports Fernley’s efforts to explore all opportunities to utilize those rights appropriately for the long-term sustainable development of the community. The NDWR stands ready to assist the City of Fernley as needed to help navigate the complexities of the USBOR project, including balancing the use of other available water rights and leveraging any new federal programs or funding that may soon become available, such as the bipartisan infrastructure legislation currently making its way through Congress.