TODAY'S EXPERIENCE (it's happening right now)
The Nye County Board of Commissioners and the Nevada Division of Water Resources are on a very important mission. These organizations are developing recommendations for creating a groundwater management plan for Pahrump Basin 162. There is a good reason for this. The basin is over-appropriated.
Basin 162 is committed to its groundwater and spring resources. Pahrump’s current population of 36,441 is expected to peak around 73,000 people by 2060. If the general plan is completely built out and 2 acre-feet of water is allowed for each property owner, water demand for Basin 162 will not be met for everyone. The perennial yield of this basin is only 20,000 acre-feet annually. The current population pumps an estimated 13,000 acre-feet annually (consumptive use). Future water demand is likely to be 23,000 acre-feet to 30,000 acre-feet annually depending on assumed agricultural and domestic uses, return flows and water conservation practices. Committed water rights, including future domestic wells may be even higher; at 63,439 acre-feet annually. There will be many financial and water related casualties under the current expansion of Pahrump and Basin 162 if water uses continue on its present course.
- If the current allowable water right of 2 acre-feet per year is reduced to 0.5 acre-feet per year, the water balance will be much easier to maintain. The public, however, views this as a water grab and has filled public meetings on this discussion. Polarization of the issue has developed. The legislative process has also not worked very well to date.
- Domestic groundwater user water rights are considered junior therefore subject to being “called” as groundwater aquifer levels decline.
- Public has a perception that water has no limitations. Citizens feel their water is being taken away, that the government will get in their way, that any effort to correct this problem will raise taxes and water meters will be placed on wells to control everyone’s water use.
- Connecting domestic properties is too expensive for the Water Districts and Domestic users.
- Groundwater availability is unevenly present in Basin 162 due to the geology and areas of water demand. Due to these mismatched conditions, people interpret decisions as unfair.
- There is much uncertainty in the recharge estimates of the basin, including irrigation and actual pumping by domestic wells. Data from springs and shallower aquifer systems are known but a technical understanding of the underlying limestone aquifer is severely limited. This uncertainty weighs heavy because deep groundwater recharge from the limestone aquifer is assumed in today’s perennial yield calculations.
- The groundwater monitoring network is very much undersized compared to the number of wells in Basin 162.
OPERATION UNITE® CAN HELP
Operation Unite® is a hands – on, results - oriented, capacity building initiative that engages Stakeholders and the Impacted Public in solving water problems thereby building Public responsibility for generated projects. Operation Unite® can help resolve this water dilemma.
This is a correctable situation. People want to buy property in Pahrump, pay a reasonable amount of property taxes. However, at the end of the day, they want to be left alone.
Operation Unite® conducts its own technical review of hydrogeologic information that has been shared with the public. Operation Unite® will identify miscommunications and misconceptions of both stakeholders and the public. These misunderstandings will be corrected within both the public and other stakeholders.
Operation Unite® will work with the public through the Operation Unite® Relationship Building program.
Operation Unite® will aid Pahrump citizens and stakeholders to discover their common community values and a common goal. Most communities aren’t aware of their common values. Operation Unite® will facilitate the discovery of these values and enforce their application at meetings and communications during the resolve of this water issue. A decision process that is consistent with common community values will generate ownership and agreement in the community.
Operation Unite® will develop a reality check for the Pahrump population to recognize their personal vulnerability under the current conditions and an effective way to respond. People currently don’t feel vulnerable. Developing a reality check will be accomplished through the Public Relationship Building program that Operation Unite® has created.
These combined actions will support the discovery of a project goal that the Pahrump populous will support.
Once common community values and a common goal are discovered, Operation Unite® will aid sponsors of public forums and meetings, media and stakeholders in guiding interactions that are consistent with the community common goals and facts of the issue.
Operation Unite® will bring current actions in Pahrump into alignment thereby solving the issue of water availability and access to the year 2060.