Monitor Valley Water Adjudication
Bigtime Showdown for Nevada Water Law
By Mark Waite
Elko Daily Free Press
|A water rights hearing before the state engineer's office involving the U.S. Forest Service and two Nye County ranchers could have a tremendous, predecent-setting impact on water rights throughout the West, according to some interested observers in western Nevada.|
hearing involves a dispute centered in Nye County's
Monitor Valley and arose out of a lawsuit involving Wayne
Hage, a Tonopah rancher, explained Eureka County Deputy
District Attorney Zane Miles.
Eureka County officials felt concerned enough about the case to tell their water rights attorney, Karen Peterson, to research filings in the case, sit in on part of the discussion in Carson City last week and file a brief in the case.
The U.S. Forest Service in this case is arguing its plans for water -- for fisheries, stream flow or whatever other purposes -- are sufficient to override other uses such as ranching, Miles said.
"The significance of this whole thing is, if in fact what the feds are trying to argue is the traditional 150-year-old western water law -- first in time, first in right -- should be abandoned and the western water authorities, the state engineer in most of the states, should consider all the other issues as having equal or sometimes higher priority than the previous appropriation," he said.
"It would just totally reverse 150 years of appropriative rights water law. Every
ranch in Nevada and in
the West that depends upon water rights that arises on
federally controlled land would be affected."
yours as long as you
continue to use it beneficially," Miles said.
information from the
county tax rolls to show a chain of title, to provide
evidence the water rights were put to beneficial use.
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