Water Rights Policy


The Nevada Division of Water Resources(also known as the Office of the State Engineer) is the state entity that regulates groundwater and surface water resources other than Colorado River water.

The Office of the State Engineer was created in 1903 to protect existing water rights and bring about a better method of utilizing the state’s water resources.

The General Water Law Act of 1913 gave the office jurisdiction over all wells tapping into artesian water or water in definable underground aquifers.

The 1939 Nevada Underground Water Act granted the State Engineer total jurisdiction over all groundwater in the state. The 1939 act has been amended a number of times and is now considered one of the most comprehensive groundwater laws in the West.

First in Time, First in Right

Nevada water law follows the doctrine of prior appropriation, or “first in time, first in right,” meaning the first person to file on a water resource for beneficial use is typically considered first for a permanent right to the water, subject to the State Engineer’s determination of available un-appropriated water.

Order 1293

The state engineer issued and order December of 2017 that all properties in need of a well in basin 162 must purchase 2 acre feet of water to drill a well unless there was prior relinquishment on said parcel. Many in the Pahrump basin feel this Order overstepped the bounds of the State Engineer and have filed a lawsuit. To find out more on the lawsuit please go to www.pahrumpfairwater.com.

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