Water hearings for Smith, Mason valleys set

The Nevada State Engineer has scheduled workshops in both Smith and Mason valleys this month to discuss water issues including potential water cuts to residents because of the drought.

The Smith Valley workshop is set for 2 p.m., Aug. 27 at the Smith Valley Community Hall on Highway 208. The Mason Valley workshop will be held Aug. 28, also at 2 p.m., at the Lyon County Fairgrounds, Ray Voshall Building in Yerington.

Farmers in those two areas have already been told they are facing possible curtailment orders next year because of the four-year long drought.

State Engineer Jason King told attendees at a recent meeting there’s little recharge in the aquifer coupled with unprecedented pumping of groundwater.

King and his staff will present 2015 pumping data as well as information on water rights and priorities in the valleys. They will also hold a discussion of alternative curtailment options and the engineer’s preferences if reductions in water use are ordered.

An order mandating a 50 percent reduction in pumping on groundwater rights supplemental to surface rights in the two valleys. A group of farmers appealed the order and District Judge Leon Aberasturi rejected the order saying it wasn’t based on priority of rights.

King said at the time that leaves his office no choice but to basically eliminate junior water rights before ordering any cuts to senior water rights holders. He has been working with Desert Research Institute experts to determine how much those junior rights are going to have to be cut to prevent the water table from dropping more than four feet and present those results at the two workshops.


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