Lower Division Water Rights Licensing
In 1991, following the licensing of Nevada Irrigation District’s (District) Upper Division Permits, the District requested that the 10 remaining permitted water rights be considered for licensing. In 2002, State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), Division of Water Rights (Division) staff conducted a licensing inspection for the 10 permitted water rights to begin the licensing process. Since then, the District has been working cooperatively with the Division to analyze the use of water associated with the Permits, both consumptive and non-consumptive uses, in anticipation of licensing these rights. In connection with its review, Division staff recommended a two-step process be followed starting with a number of petitions being filed to clarify and more accurately conform certain permitted rights consistently with District operations preparatory to the licensing of those rights. As further described below, this project, therefore, encompasses the environmental review of petitions filed on nine (9) water right Permits and five (5) water right Licenses held by the District for the beneficial use of water within the District’s boundary as the initial step in anticipation of licensing those Permits.
The District’s system is commonly divided, for descriptive purposes, into two categories: the Upper Division and the Lower Division. The Upper Division is typically described as the source of the District’s water supply, coupled with the associated facilities for diverting and storing water, upstream of Spaulding Reservoir. The Lower Division primarily encompasses water rights that have sources and associated facilities downstream of Spaulding Reservoir. There are three Permits which serve as exceptions to the general geographic boundaries of the Lower Division. Two of those are for the District’s consumptive use Permits 13770 and 5815, which identify sources and diversion facilities located upstream of Spaulding Reservoir. However, initial collection to storage of the water under these Permits occurs in reservoirs located downstream of Spaulding Reservoir and thus, these two Permits were included in the Lower Division Licensing process and are classified as Lower Division Permits. The third exception is for non-consumptive use Permit 19158, which contains facilities (powerhouses) both upstream and downstream of Spaulding Reservoir. Collectively, the ten water right Permits involved in the current licensing process are referred to as the District’s Lower Division Permits.