Minden looks at the price of water rights

An analysis of water rights prices in Northern Nevada confirmed for Minden officials what they have suspected for some time: Prices in Carson Valley are among the lowest in the region and more than 10 times less than Washoe County.

Appraiser Lyn Norberg presented a price analysis to Minden Town Board members at a special meeting Tuesday. The board is to continue the discussion at tonight's meeting at the CVIC Hall.

"We're suckers if we don't understand the value of this resource," said town board member Bob Hadfield. "We're targeting ourselves to have somebody take our water right out of here."

According to Norberg's findings, water rights sell for $3,500-$4,000 an acre foot in Minden and up to $45,000 to $50,000 an acre foot in Reno/Sparks.

An acre foot is the volume of water sufficient to cover an acre of land to a depth of 1 foot. It equals approximately 325,851 gallons of water, enough to supply a five-person household for one year.

The town holds rights to 12,000 acre feet of water.

The board plans to set an interim structure pending completion of Norberg's analysis of home prices in Carson Valley.

"If you want to establish a price structure that seems fair and above criticism, you might tie it to the price of a house," he said.

Preliminary figures indicate that in Carson Valley, the cost of water was 1 percent of the $410,000 median price of a new home in Carson Valley.

In Reno/Sparks, the cost was 15 percent of the $335,000 median price of a home.

Norberg based his figures on the last two quarters of 2005 between July 1 and Dec. 14 as reported by the Northern Nevada Multiple Listing Service.

Norberg said he wanted to get final 2005 figures from the Douglas County assessor's office and estimated that would take a few weeks.

"This type of price structure offers the advantage of fairness, and furthermore benefits from a built-in inflationary adjustment. Discounts could be offered for projects that serve a public need or purpose, such as accommodating the affordable housing element of the county's master plan, providing housing for senior citizens, etc.," Norberg said in his report.

Town board members renewed their hope that Douglas County officials would engage in an areawide water plan.

"We have been singled out as a receiving area, as the place where you're going to build," Hadfield said. "We've got this big asterisk marking Minden and Gardnerville.

"The county is pursuing its own reckless water policy and refuses to sit down with the town. They continue to isolate us. That smacks of some power control county issue," Hadfield said.

Hadfield said he didn't understand why the county had ignored a request to relinquish one of the three commissioners' seats on the Carson River Water Subconservancy District and appoint a Minden or Gardnerville town representative.

"We're the major water resource entity in this county," he said.


Minden Town Board Meeting, 6 p.m., CVIC Hall, Esmeralda Avenue, Minden. The discussion of water rights sales is set for 7 p.m. Information, 782-5976.


Reno/Sparks: $45,000-$50,000

Dayton Valley: $20,000-$22,000

Fernley: $18,000-$20,000

Carson Valley: $3,500-$4,000

Smith Valley: $2,000-$2,500

Source: Lyn C. Norberg


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