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Water Rights for Cash in Nevada

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Many landowners all over the state of Nevada are choosing to surrender their water rights​ in exchange for cash payments. The constant drought conditions combined with over pumping have depleted the groundwater that communities depend on, and many landowners have made the decision to sell their water rights rather than drilling a new well or extending an existing well. 

The Voluntary Water Rights Retirement Program​ was allocated $25 million in funding and was created to purchase groundwater rights from private landowners in over-pumped, over-appropriated basins in several Nevada communities. The Central Nevada Regional Water Authority​ is an agency that proactively addresses water resource issues in this region, and they report that there are "25 over-appropriated groundwater basins, eight of which are also over-pumped."

As of May 2024, the program has "received commitments to retire more than 25,000 acre-feet of groundwater annually...which is about the average amount of water in both the Boca Reservoir and Donner Lake any given year." Water regulators have until September 2024 to enter into contracts and acquire water rights.

Most of the funding will likely go to Diamond Valley, NV which is the state's only "critical management area." This means that "the valley’s groundwater levels are rapidly declining, and groundwater rights holders in the area are required to create a plan to address over-pumping or risk losing their rights...If all sales go through, the state expects to retire about 30% of the annual groundwater yield in Diamond Valley," said Jeff Fontaine, Executive Director of the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority and the Humboldt River Basin Water Authority.

Due to the success of this limited program, water managers and conservation groups in the state have expressed the need to make Voluntary Water Rights Retirement a permanent, statewide program. 

Groundwater Rule Compliance

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The groundwater rule is to reduce disease incidence associated with disease-causing microorganisms in drinking water. The rule establishes a risk-based approach to target groundwater systems that are vulnerable to fecal contamination. Groundwater systems that are identified as being at risk of fecal contamination must take corrective action to reduce potential illness from exposure to microbial pathogens. The rule applies to all systems that use ground water as a source of drinking water. 

We have 488 resources (and counting) on Groundwater in our Documents Database that provide valuable information on this topic. You can search for resources on the Ground Water Rule (GWR), public water well maintenance and use, compliance monitoring for GWSseffective well maintenance and procedures, and many other useful guides that will help ensure our groundwater stays safe and clean for generations to come. 

To access the wealth of knowledge on Groundwater within our database just select "CATEGORY" in the dropdown then choose "Groundwater." Once you make that selection, a second dropdown will appear where you can choose "HOST," “TYPE,” or “STATE” to narrow the search even further. If you have a specific search term in mind, use the “Keyword Filter” search bar on the right side of the screen.

This is part of our A-Z for Operators series.

Chemical Grouting: A Solution to Infiltration


Editor's Note: We want to thank Avanti International for permission to use their photo as Figure 1 in this post.

Infiltration is defined as an excess of unwanted water entering a sanitary wastewater system from groundwater or storm water. More specifically, infiltration occurs when groundwater enters the sanitary sewer through defects in pipes and manholes (Figure 1). This excess water can cause damage to the collection system when sewers are forced to transport more flow than they are designed to handle. Increased effluent also raises wastewater treatment costs because the facility must treat harmless storm water and groundwater with the sewage. This added flow increases wear on equipment, electrical cost, and overall operation and maintenance expenses. In addition, if the capacity of the collection system or treatment plant is exceeded, untreated wastewater may be discharged into the environment.

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Figure 1. Potential Sources for Infiltration

As with most utility problems, there are many potential solutions. For infiltration where defects are localized, some of these solutions include mechanical point repair, injection methods, or rerounding. A discussion of the chemical grout injection option is given below. 

The chemicals used for grouting have been available since the early 1960s. They are usually urethane based and when they come in contact with water react to form a polymer material that is a barrier to water flow. The conditions/steps required for grouting are:

  1. A pipe or joint cannot be failing structurally
  2. There must be a path for the grouting solution to flow out into the soil
  3. The area must be free of debris such as roots, grease and other obstacles that may prevent proper application of the grout.
  4. Application of the chemicals at a pressure higher than the water table of inflowing water.
  5. Final testing of the repair (air pressure or visually).

A video providing an overview of this process using remotely operated equipment is given below.


Chemical grouting can also be applied manually and can stop the leak almost instantly. A video of manual grouting for a leak in sewer wall is shown below. 


In summary, chemical grouting technology for stopping infiltration is attractive because the chemicals are non-toxic to the wastewater treatment plant and can be applied using remote controlled equipment or manually for small localized defects. Chemical grouting is a flexible low cost option for infiltration repairing of sewer mains in addition to sewer laterals.