Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada

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Due process requires junior water rights holders in the Diamond Valley Hydrographic Basin No. 153 (Diamond Valley) be given notice and an opportunity to participate in the district court’s consideration of the request of a vested, senior water rights holder to order the State Engineer to curtail junior water rights in Diamond Valley. Because water in Diamond Valley has been over-appropriated and pumped at a rate exceeding its perennial yield for more than four decades, groundwater levels in southern Diamond Valley have fallen over 100 feet. Sadler Ranch, which claims to be a vested, senior water rights holder in Diamond Valley, petitioned the district court to order the State Engineer to initiate curtailment proceedings regarding junior water rights in Diamond Valley. The Supreme Court granted this writ petition, holding that an upcoming show cause hearing may result in a court order to begin curtailment proceedings, resulting in possible deprivation of property rights. Therefore, due process required junior water rights holders in Diamond Valley to be given notice and an opportunity to be heard before the district court conducted the hearing. View "Eureka County v. Seventh Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court overruling the State Engineer’s decision denying Rodney St. Clair’s application for a permit to temporarily change the point of diversion of the underground water source on property he purchased in 2013 from an abandoned well to another location on his property. The State Engineer found the prior owner of the property had established a right to appropriate the underground water but that a subsequent owner abandoned that right through years of nonuse. In overruling the State Engineer’s decision, the district court found insufficient evidence that any owner of the property intended to abandon the property’s water right. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an extended period of nonuse of water does not alone establish clear and convincing evidence that a property owner intended to abandon a water right connected to the property; and (2) in this case, there was no additional evidence indicating an intent to abandon, and therefore, the State Engineer’s finding of abandonment was unsupported by substantial evidence. View "King v. St. Clair" on Justia Law

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The parties in this case disputed who had rights to certain spring waters. The state engineer adjudicated the parties’ rights and entered a final order of determination. Both parties filed exceptions to the state engineer’s final order. Before the matter was heard before the district court, Respondent filed a motion to supplement his earlier filed exceptions to include property access claims arising from its water rights. The district court granted Respondent’s request. The district court then affirmed the state engineer’s order of determination, as modified. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly considered the notice of supplemental exceptions in affirming the state engineer’s order of determination, as modified, including Respondent’s supplemental request that the district court’s judgment confirm Respondent’s right of access to certain property to repair and maintain the facilities necessary to convey water; and (2) the district court’s findings were based on substantial evidence. View "Jackson v. Groenendyke" on Justia Law

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Nev. Rev. Stat. 533.3705(1) allows the State Engineer to subject newly approved water applications to an incremental use process. The statute was enacted in 2007. In 1989, Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) filed various water permit applications with the State Engineer. Many entities, including the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (CPB), opposed SNWA’s applications. Ultimately, in 2012, the State Engineer denied some of SNWA’s applications and granted others. The State Engineer subjected SNWA’s approved applications to three stages of incremental development and monitoring. CPB and others petitioned the district court for review. The district court rejected CPB’s argument that the State Engineer gave section 533.3705(1) an improper retroactive effect but reversed and remanded the State Engineer’s ruling on other grounds. CPB subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court for an extraordinary writ barring the State Engineer from applying section 533.3705(1) to SNWA’s applications. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding that the State Engineer applied section 533.3705(1) prospectively to applications approved in 2012, and therefore, the State Engineer did not apply section 533.3705(1) retroactively in this case. View "Corp. of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Seventh Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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The State Water Engineer granted the applications of Kobeh Valley Ranch, LLC to change the point of diversion, place of use, and manner of use of other of its existing rights in Eureka County. Eureka County and other appellants holding existing senior rights in Kobeh Valley petitioned the district court for judicial review of the State Engineer’s decision. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the State Engineer’s decision to grant KVR’s applications, when the result of the appropriations would conflict with existing rights, and based upon unsupported findings that mitigation would be sufficient to rectify the conflict, violated the Legislature’s directive that the State Engineer must deny use or change applications when the use or change would conflict with existing rights. View "Eureka County v. State Engineer" on Justia Law