Nevada Water Rights

Nevada is a federal-land state. Lands were generally acquired from the federal government or from other individuals. The first U.S. District Land Office was opened in Carson City, Nevada, in 1864. The BLM, 300 Booth Street, Box 12000, Reno, NV 89520, has records involving transactions through Nevada’s land offices. The Nevada State Library, Division of Archives and Records, has Carson County (Utah Territory) land records and land patents for the state. Federal land records for Nevada can also be found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and at the National Archives II (Cartographic Division) in College Park, MD. Water is regulated by The State Engineers Office.

Mining dominated the economy and politics of the state for a half century. In 1866 alone there were 200 mining districts that acted roughly as a court system in that they recorded deeds, transferred titles to claims, drew abstracts, and recorded a variety of land instruments. Documents related to mining and minerals may be found at the county level at the Nevada State Library, Division of Archives and Records. The archives also has mining corporation papers, 1861–1926. Those after 1926 are at the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office. Other holdings at the archives include state mine inspection records, 1909–74, for operating mines. The focus today for many has changed, from mining claims to water rights. The Gold Rush Continues!

Today’s Investors are buying water rights. Who is buying these Water Rights?

Water Rights laws and use are complicated, yet many parcels with water rights are available today, some at very reasonable prices.

As the Gold rush continues, Water Rights may be worth more than oil in the not too distant future.

Excerpts from Southwest hydrology September/October 2008, with some Commentary!

Early in U.S. history, public policy was fashioned to encourage settlement of the West. Laws such as the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Desert Lands Act of 1877 were framed to transfer government land to settlers. In 1902 the Reclamation Act provided funding for construction and maintenance of western irrigation projects. In its first annual report (1903), Reclamation had this to say” so that the remaining public lands will furnish the greatest possible number of homes, is an object worthy of the sustained effort of enlightened and patriotic citizens”. The public works that followed included such things as Hoover Dam, Shasta Dam, Newlands project, Yuma Project, Klamath project, Hetchy Aqueduct, and many more. With the 1902 Reclamation act the face of the West was changed forever. It must be pointed out and understood, these efforts and projects were directed at irrigation needs, based on a population that farmed for a living. Nothing like the urban shifts projected today!

How many of retiring Baby Boom generations are moving west to farm? demographer say that the West is now, today, the most urbanized region of the nation (based on the percentage of the population living in cities), as well as the region experiencing the greatest population growth. Regional planners can not find growth models in history to compare to what they believe is coming to Lincoln County over the next few years..

Eight BIG projects are currently proposed in four states. The one most relevant to Lincoln County Nevada is the ground water transfer project to build a 327 mile long pipe from East Central Nevada to Las Vegas. They propose to transfer 164,000 acre feet year of groundwater from six basins, at an estimated cost of $3.5 Billion to build. The project actually entails 200,000 afy with 36,000 afy being left in Lincoln County. The EIS study is intended to insure and protect existing water users and environmental resources from unreasonable effects. Nevertheless, many rural Nevadans object to the project, believing it may impact their region despite these precautions.

Then came the drought—at a magnitude that had no probability of occurring, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation models based on a century of historical data. Sorry science guys, in the big picture, a century of data, barely counts as a data base. In the blink of an eye, half a decades work to manage the Colorado River and meet the supply requirement and commitments has faded, as have the water levels in the Colorado River’s two prime reservoirs. Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

Climate change and global warming predictions aside, demographic shift projections are clear, 8000 Americans turn 60 years old per day today and the migration West will continue for around twenty more years. The peak birth year was 1960; they are currently 48 years old! Many are looking to the State of Nevada as their future home, for many reasons, weather, taxes, etc. The shift has already begun and Las Vegas, Mesquite Coyote Springs, Toquop may be just the beginning. Water as everyone knows is vital to sustain life. Water Rights will be more valuable than oil one day soon!

Nevada Land and Water News Affecting Farm and Ranch Land Values

Agricultural Farm and Ranch Land in Nevada with Water Rights is a Very Limited Resource. Development or transition Potential Ranch Land with Water Rights is even scarcer.

Eden Valley is a large private valley with potential to build your own vision. It might incorporate wind, and solar power, independent cattle operations, that would include raising your feed. The opportunity to build from scratch your own family ranch is rare. Reason being, Nevada water laws require continual beneficial use. Eden Valley has these water rights and the water is running today, yet the property is virgin. No old out buildings, no run down farm houses.

Adams Peak Farm with its ten wells and 1600 flat acres is now mostly in alfalfa. The water rights, wells, good county road access, power all in place. Nature provides the rest, snow caped peaks, sunny days, healthy growing crops, and privacy.

Water Rights, Nevada Land, and Food

The twentieth century was one of the wettest going back several centuries.

University of Arizona scientist Connie Woodhouse said tree rings in the Colorado River basin indicate that the amount of moisture has fluctuated widely over hundreds of years, but has tended to be drier than was seen in the last 100 years.

California ranks No. 1 in population with 37 million people and No. 1 in agricultural output at $ 36.6 billion in 2007. At the present time there is not enough water to supply both those demands. California is facing the most significant water crisis in its history. June 2008, the governor declared a state-wide drought.

A study released by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego said there’s a 50 percent chance that Lake Mead could run dry by 2021. Several models by different scientist have made predictions about the future flow of the Colorado River, all of which forecast less water. The current usage is simply not sustainable said Tim Barnett, one of the Scripps study’s authors. “It’s a question of when,” he said. Lake Mead is the Las Vegas water supply.

If the drought continues until spring, California water officials there is planning to ration municipal water deliveries and dry up as much as 200,000 acres of farmland, according to AG Weekly 12/08/08. Without adequate water storage we are putting our food supply in jeopardy.

Land owners up and down the Virgin River Valley have either sold or leased nearly all the water rights in the Mesquite Valley to Southern Nevada Water Authority or Virgin Valley Water District. The fields will not be green next spring; there will be no hay to put up in Mesquite. The Virgin River feeds into Lake Mead.

Added value to land with water rights, and irrigated farm land in Nevada. Nevada state water laws date back 100 years and are very clear. Laws vary greatly from state to state, and the Colorado River serves seven states. The control, use and ownership of water rights will dictate future development.

Climate change is the wild card in all the predictions, the collision course between supply and demand is clear. Demand for food, and the future demographic population shifts are going to increase pressure. Increased storage capacity may be one of the answers for some areas. Limits on use and conservation will play increasingly bigger roles.

For More Information About Nevada Water Rights, Nevada Ranch Land, Nevada Irrigated Farm Land Contact 

Independence Realty

Nevada Water Rights

Land in Nevada

Nevada Ranch Properties

Lincoln County Land Market

Mesquite NV Real Estate Market


One thought on “Nevada Water Rights

  1. Very efficiently written post. It will be valuable to anyone who usess it, as well as myself. Keep doing what you are doing i will definitely read more posts. agbbadbefede

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