Nevada SC rules in long-running water case

By Kathy Woods | Feb 1, 2010

Nevada Supreme Court building

CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline)-The Nevada Supreme Court reversed a district court ruling, saying that state engineer at the time, Hugh Ricci, violated his statutory duty by failing to rule on Southern Nevada Water Authority's water appropriation application within one year.

The Great Basin Water Network had appealed the 14-year-old case against Tracy Taylor in his capacity as the Nevada State Engineer.

The case stems back to applications for water appropriation in 1989 and whether those applications were considered still-pending or whether they fell under a more recently amended state statute.

The Nevada Supreme Court concluded that the applications were not pending in 2003, and that the state engineer had violated his authority by not taking action within one year of the final protest date.

The Supreme Court ordered the water authority to resubmit their groundwater application and according to reports they have already done so.

Supreme Court Justice James Hardesty wrote in Thursday's opinion that what the justices had to decide was a narrow, yet fundamental question: Whether the State Engineer violated his statutory duty under Nevada statue of ruling on water appropriation applications within one year of final protest date or whether the case fell under the new statute which was amended in 2003.

The opinion states that the justices conclude that "pending" applications are those that were filed within one year prior to the enactment of the 2003 amendment. And that the state engineer could not take action on them under the 2003 amendment.

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