Water challenge a ‘monkey wrench’ in development
December 8, 2006
Efforts by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to challenge every groundwater transfer from the Carson River no matter what size may open a floodgate of problems for people trying to build homes on community water systems.
The Minden Town Board, holder of a major block of Carson River water rights, addressed the issue Wednesday.
Town engineer Bruce Scott said the tribe had protested transfers as small as 1,000 gallons a day, or the typical usage in a single-family residence.
“They’ve actively initiated a program to protest all changes,” Scott said. “The underlying concern is the potential impact.”
So far, Scott said, the tribe has protested two transfers requested by Minden. Three other transfers are in the application process and subject to protest.
Scott said the protest process can take years to resolve.
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“I see a real value in the town assuming a leadership role in getting the purveyors together,” he said.
Town board member Bob Hadfield renewed the call for Douglas County to work with Minden to extend water mains that would be exempt from the transfer process.
“All we’re doing is building up a backlog of federal court cases for the taxpayers to pay for,” Hadfield said.
Scott said there had been no word from the state engineer’s office how the protests would be handled.
Usually, the first step is to consolidate the protests with a hearing date several months out.
“You have a lot of small people here who can’t afford legal experts,” Scott said. “They’ll almost certainly be appealed to the federal court, the Ninth Circuit Court, all the way to the Supreme Court.”
“It takes years and costs millions of dollars,” Scott said. “It’s a huge monkey wrench that affects a lot of things.”
In protests to the state engineer the tribe claims transfers in the Carson River reduce flows into Lahontan Reservoir, 18 miles west of Fallon. The requirement to keep the reservoir full requires more diversion from the Truckee River which feeds Pyramid Lake.
“The protests freeze everything even as small as a parcel map,” Scott said.
The Carson Water Subconservancy District is expected to address the issue at a regional water workshop from 9 a.m.-noon Monday at the CVIC Hall in Minden.
The Carson Water Subconservancy District is conducting a follow-up meeting from 9 a.m.-noon Monday at the CVIC Hall in Minden. An initial meeting with various water purveyors in the Carson River watershed was held in September. Information, Ed James, 887-7456; Toni Leffler, 887-7450.