State Engineer issues order to reduce allowed pumping of groundwater for supplemental irrigation water rights in Smith and Mason Valleys

On February 3, 2015, the State Engineer issued Order No. 1250 requiring a 50% mandatory reduction of groundwater that may be pumped for the 2015 irrigation season in the Smith Valley Basin (107) and Mason Valley Basin (108) Hydrographic Basins under supplemental irrigation water rights. The objectives of the order are to protect existing water rights and wells, protect the physical integrity of the aquifer and to protect the long-term water supply.

Nevada is entering what is anticipated to be a fourth year of drought conditions. In the last several years, the Smith and Mason Valleys have seen unprecedented groundwater pumping and water level declines. There have also been reports of well failures, and there remains a possibility of basin-wide well failures of shallow wells if no action is taken.

As a result of the ongoing drought conditions and specific impacts in the Smith and Mason Valleys, the State Engineer held a workshop on January 22, 2015 in Smith and in Yerington to explain the reasoning for his decision to issue the order and to provide the affected water right owners as much advance warning as possible. This presentation is available at the Nevada Division of Water Resources website at www.water.nv.gov in the Recent News section. Lists of affected water rights are also available on this webpage.

Division of Water Resources staff will begin tagging each irrigation well with a notice of the quantity of water that may be pumped from that well. A copy of Order 1250 and may be obtained at www.water.nv.gov or by contacting the Nevada Division of Water Resources.