Three Lakes/Tikapoo Water Rights
In 2005 the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) filed change applications to change the points of diversion for permitted water rights in Three Lakes Valley South, Three Lakes Valley North, and Tikapoo Valley South. SNWA held 2,618 acre feet per year (afy) in Three Lakes Valley South, 3,700 afy in Three Lakes Valley North, and 1,700 afy in Tikapoo Valley South.
The Nevada State Engineer (NSE) held a hearing on SNWA's Three Lakes/Tikapoo Valleys water applications in November 2005. SNWA submitted a total of 11 applications. There were several protests, including those submitted by BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Department of Defense (Nellis AFB), Department of Energy, and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The parties listed above negotiated the Three Lakes/Tikapoo Stipulated Agreement with SNWA. The common goal of the Agreement is to manage the development of the SNWA Water Rights in their entirety from Three Lakes Valley South, without resulting in any injury to senior federal water rights or unreasonable adverse impacts to federal water resources.
Stipulated Agreement Monitoring Plans
The Monitoring, Management, and Mitigation Plan was appended to the Three Lakes/Tikapoo Stipulated Agreement (Exhibit A). The main points are summarized below:
- The parties to the Agreement will continue participating with USGS on existing wells
- Up to seven new monitoring wells will be designed, located, and constructed
- SNWA will continuously meter their production wells for discharge and water levels, and they will collect water chemistry data at these sites
- SNWA will ensure the continued monitoring of Corn Creek Spring
- BLM will install a shallow piezometer in proximity to Cactus Springs to monitor water levels
- A groundwater flow model will be utilized to help understand the system. The federal agencies are required to maintain, update, and operate the calibrate DVRFS model as information becomes available. The federal agencies are also responsible for providing model output in the form of drawdown maps and plots of simulated water levels through time in the aquifer system.
- The parties established a process to initiate consultation with the group when a party to the Agreement believes a potential injury to water rights or federal water resources is predicted due to SNWA pumping in Three Lakes Valley South based on data collection and model results.
- The parties may seek a negotiated resolution of a course of action to manage or mitigate the effect. If a consensus cannot be reached, the issue will be elevated to the NSE.
- SNWA will mitigate any injury to senior federal water rights or unreasonable adverse impacts to federal water resources with as agreed upon by the parties to the Agreement or as determined by the NSE. Mitigation may include:
- Geographic redistribution of pumpage
- Reduction or cessation of pumpage
- Restoration/modification of existing habitat
- Establishment of new habitat
- Augmentation of water resource with pumped groundwater
- Other measures as agreed to by the parties to the Agreement and/or required by the NSE
Three Lakes/Tikapoo Valleys NSE Ruling
On June 15, 2006 the NSE issued a ruling on SNWA’s Three Lakes/Tikapoo Valleys Applications (NSE Ruling 5621) in which SNWA was granted change applications for 6 of the applications:
- Two applications, totaling approximately 11,584 afy, to change the point of diversion from Tikapoo Valley South to Three Lakes Valley South were denied.
- Three applications, totaling approximately 15,928 afy, to change the point of diversion from Three Lakes Valley North to Three Lakes Valley South were denied.
- The remaining six applications were approved. These applications to change the point of diversion from one location within Three Lakes Valley South to another location also within Three Lakes Valley South totaled approximately 11,558 afy.
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