May 19, 2023

Newsletter for May 19, 2023

This Issue:

  • Senate Bill 113 Passes Assembly Natural Resources Committee
  • From What We Saw Of Virtual Meeting For BLM’s Proposed Rule…
  • Nevada Farm Bureau Continues To Oppose Horse Designation
  • Local Groundwater Advisory Board Bill Approved With Amendments
  • We’re Still Seeking Member Input For Engagement In Humboldt River Process
  • Farm Bureau Policy On Conjunctive Management
Visit our Website

Senate Bill 113 Passes Assembly Natural Resources Committee

Members of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee gave their unanimous support for passage of SB 113  during their work session on Monday, May 15.  This vote clears the way for the legislation to advance for a vote on the floor of the Nevada Assembly.

SB 113 is the water bill that Nevada Farm Bureau requested as the means to protect senior water right owners in future designations of critical management areas when groundwater management plans are developed and sent to the State Engineer for approval.  

From What We Saw Of Virtual Meeting For BLM’s Proposed Rule…

Based on our view of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) first meeting of their proposed rule, the agency plans to maintain that they have all the authority they need to do the rule that they plan to do.  BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning started the virtual public meeting out insisting that they have the authority under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) to invent new multiple uses, including “conservation” as one such use.

The presentation made to those who joined the Zoom platform included the answers to a number of questions that the agency told us they were being asked, which was very handy, since the answers they gave justified how wonderful the proposed rule will be when they implement it.  Along the same lines, the agency has developed a “Frequently Asked Questions” as part of their public relations campaign to sell the merits of their internally-developed rule.

Based on the manner in which the virtual meeting operated, it will be extremely important for Nevada citizens who have an interest in the way that BLM will be managing a significant portion of our state (nearly 48 million acres – 63 percent of the state’s land base) need to plan to attend the June 1 meeting scheduled for the Reno-Sparks Convention Center (4950 S. Virginia Street, Reno, NV) from 5 to 7 p.m..

We strongly encourage Farm Bureau members to review the proposed rule and plan to submit comments.  The link available at this Federal Register Link provides the portal for accessing the proposed rule as well as for participating in the 75-day comment period that is underway and will end June 20th.

Another piece of information from BLM which explains their perspective on the value of their proposed rule can befound here.

Nevada Farm Bureau Continues To Oppose Horse Designation

The Assembly Government Affairs Committee held a meeting on SB 90 the bill which proposes to make Nevada “mustangs” the State Horse of Nevada.  Because of the limited time available for both bill opponents and supporters to present testimony, Nevada Farm Bureau was unable to give our testimony of opposition during the hearing, but did submit these comments for the record and for consideration by the committee members. 

Local Groundwater Advisory Board Bill Approved With Amendments

SB 180 was passed by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, May 17, but not with additional amendments from the version linked to the bill number provided above.  One of the amendments came from committee member, Assemblywoman LaRue Hatch which clarified that each groundwater basin would be limited to a single advisory board and the provisions also provide for multiple counties to collaborate with neighboring county commissioners, if the groundwater basin crosses multiple counties.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Pete Goicoechea also added an amendment before the bill was passed by committee, strengthening the language that where there are disagreements between the State Engineer and the Groundwater Advisory Boards that their disagreement would not be admissible in any court cases that would challenge the State Engineer’s decision.

Nevada Farm Bureau has supported passage of SB 180 because of our policy which stresses the importance of the State Engineer engaging with local water right owners.

A Couple Of Water Bills Still On The “To Do” List…

Friday, May 19th is the next deadline for the 2023 Nevada Legislative Session.  It requires that all non-exempt bills must pass from the committees of the Second House.  At this writing the water bills that Nevada Farm Bureau has been supporting have successfully gotten past this deadline.  There are a couple of major water bills, that Farm Bureau and others would like to see adopted before the end of the 82nd Nevada Legislature.  They each are exempt from the deadlines, but still would need favorable attention of both ends of the legislative building before the session ends on June 5th

SB 112  is a bill which deals with basin assessments that the State Engineer might make against designated groundwater basins.  In addition to the language which deals with how much can be assessed, the bill also restricts where the funds can be used. (During the current biennium, the State Engineer used funds that were supposed to be reserved for the actual basin that charges were collected to partially fund positions in the state office of the Nevada Division of Water Resources.)  Through actions taken by the Senate Finance Committee these charges were reversed and made up with general fund dollars.

Nevada Farm Bureau has also supported SB 112 because of the transparency required in the bill, whereby County Commissioners can ask for and receive a report (once a year) on how the funds for a basin account has been used.

SB 176 is a bill that could be one of the most novel changes in Nevada water law to this point.  If adopted, and funded, it provides for establishing a buy-back program where voluntary sales of water rights to the State of Nevada could take place in over-appropriated and over-pumped basins.  The purchased groundwater rights would be retired and this could help in bringing these basins back into balance with the perennial yield of the basin.  

The likely first-step objectives, after hopefully gaining passage and even some funding, would be to set up the program through the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.  This would include getting regulations and operations established.  There could be the possibility of federal funds becoming available to assist with the voluntary buy-back purchases as well as future state funds to be used in addressing the significant problem of over-appropriated and over-pumped groundwater basins in the state.

We’re Still Seeking Member Input For Engagement In Humboldt River Process

Over the past several weeks, Nevada Farm Bureau has been attempting to inform Farm Bureau members of the pending program that the State Engineer has announced for gaining public input and program ideas to deal with the Humboldt River system.

On March 28, 2023, staff of the State Engineer’s Office held a public information meeting regarding future water management in the Humboldt River region, with emphasis on surface water/groundwater connection and preventing future conflict in accordance with the foundations of prior appropriation and beneficial use. A recording of that meeting can be viewed here.

Last week we shared the next steps to promote participation and inclusion of interested parties. As we indicated, Nevada Farm Bureau is especially interested in hearing back from Farm Bureau members on your thoughts for what Farm Bureau can do in order to have some impact on the process that is outlined here… (Contact Nevada Farm Bureau at or by calling 775-870-3349)

The State Engineer is inviting all interested parties to provide an abstract(s) describing a concept, method, or idea to conjunctively manage all sources of water within the Humboldt River hydrographic basins. These abstracts will be used to develop the agenda for an upcoming public meeting (the first of which will be held Tuesday, August 1, 2023, at 1:00 pm) to discuss specific strategies for conjunctive management of surface water and groundwater in this region. NDWR staff will review the submitted abstracts to determine which of those are feasible (e.g., complete, legal, timely, etc.) and authors of those abstracts will be invited to give a short presentation to NDWR and other stakeholders at that meeting. 

The goal of these presentations is to expand upon existing proposals and to find ideas that may not have been previously considered to get as many creative solutions on the table as possible. Participation with NDWR and other stakeholders is intended to facilitate further development, refinement, and vetting of conjunctive management concepts. Progress on the conjunctive management framework will also continue to be shared publicly with the greater water resource community.

As we indicated, Nevada Farm Bureau is especially interested in hearing back from Farm Bureau members on your thoughts for what Farm Bureau can do in order to have some impact on the process that is outlined here… (Contact Nevada Farm Bureau at or by calling 775-870-3349) 

The section below provides details and timelines for requested abstracts and presentations. 

Guidelines for Abstracts:

1.Submit a brief abstract to NDWR describing your concept in 1 page or less (due by July 7, 2023).

2.The abstract should discuss the following:

a.Brief description of the concept/method/idea and how it would work.

b.Discussion on how to implement this concept and what is needed. 

c.If this concept has been implemented successfully in other states, provide additional information on how it was implemented and examples.  

d.Any pitfalls or issues (funding concept, additional needs by public or State Engineer’s office)?

Guidelines for Presentations:

Abstract authors invited to give a presentation at the August 1 meeting will be contacted by NDWR staff by July 18, 2023, to place your concept/idea on the agenda. The State Engineer asks that you prepare and submit a 15-minute (or less) summary presentation of your concept. Any prepared presentation MUST be submitted to NDWR no later than July 28, 2023, to allow adequate time for staff to load the presentation onto NDWR’s system. To the degree possible, presentations should cover:

e.A brief description of the concept and how it would work. 

f. Discussion of steps/considerations needed to implement the concept.

g.Funds needed and potential source(s) of funding.

h.Description of steps and timeline that may be needed to implement the concept.

i. Description of the expected/desired outcomes.

j. If known, describe examples where the concept has been or is being implemented successfully. What actions were required to reach agreement and how were stakeholders afforded the opportunity to be involved? 

Farm Bureau Policy On Conjunctive Management

Conjunctive Water Management: 321                                                                

 We are very concerned over the lack of legislative direction and absence of specific parameters in

regard to how “Conjunctive Management” is going to be carried out. We urge a full public discussion of what conjunctive management of water resources means and how combining separate sections of state law will be implemented. Long and established separations for surface and groundwater rights cannot be quickly combined without a complete vetting of how issues and impacts will be worked through. Top down edicts by the State Engineer’s office, without local, public engagement of those being affected is not acceptable.


Statutory parameters need to be established to guide regulatory actions in how the State Engineer will implement and operate conjunctive management activities.

Regulatory activity related to carrying out conjunctive management needs to be based on established scientific documentation that the water relating to the conjunctive management of specific groundwater and surface water are connected, as well as an established understand to the degree one water right is relating to others.

The interaction of water from various sources involves many different elements include the timeframes and the degree to which connections take place. State policy on the use of conjunctive management needs to be based on site specific circumstances, which recognizes the variety of elements that exist at a specific site. Not all areas have the same connection and interaction throughout a system and this warrants consideration in implementing active management that has consequences to different water rights.

We support limitations on siting water wells in a manner which protects surface water rights from being impacted by the pumping of a well.

In responding to State Engineer actions where conjunctive management actions could have an impact on different water right owners, senior water right owners need to have their rights duly recognized as they wish to have the water associated with their rights dealt with. They should be able to receive water which meets their water rights instead of being required to accept financial or other compensation through mitigation measures that they do not voluntarily agree to.

Humboldt River Management Modeling:   322                                                     

Modeling being developed by the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) and the Desert Research Institute(DRI) for the Humboldt River system requires validation and the findings related to the research need to be presented in an understandable fashion. The “conjunctive” management which will come as the result of this modeling must have a basis in factual information that the general public can effectively deliberate for soundness. Along with the findings of the Humboldt River Basin Capture Analysis, we believe that an overall river basin economic perspective needs to be factored into river and groundwater basin

management actions for the Humboldt River system.

This process should apply to all other rivers in the state of Nevada.

The Latest Considerations For New Farm Bill

A great deal of attention is being given to the various moving pieces as the next Farm Bill goes through its normal process of development.  American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) economist Danny Munch shared this informative update on the scenarios that could play out as the “Farm Bill Math” comes together.

Have A Great Weekend!