Water Rights – Explained

When the Somersett Owners Association (SOA) Board of Directors appointed the “SGCC and SOA Water Management Advisory Committee”, one of its stated objectives was to “Prepare and recommend a plan for the use and optimization of the Water Rights that make up the Agreement between both parties such that the Water Rights as granted never terminate or revert back to their origins and are managed within the state, federal, and local laws are requirements as outlined in any and all water rights licenses or agreements”.

So what Water Rights are they referring to? The Water Rights purchased from the Somersett Golf and Country Club (SGCC), along with the Water Facilities for accessing and delivering the water, which were then leased back to the SGCC subject to the terms and conditions of a Water Facilities Agreement. These Water Rights provide the irrigation water for both the SGCC and the SOA’s Canyon9 golf courses. The water supply comes from two sources, underground wells and the Truckee River via twenty water permits. These permits are listed on the attached spreadsheet, along with the permitted amounts in Acre Feet Annually (AFA) for each. Also, included are the dates when the permits were put into use, along with the next due dates for submittal of the routine “Proof of Beneficial Use” documentation. Note that some of the permits have not yet been activated. The attached indicates that the total allotment of available water is 511.87 ACA. However, how much of this is actually being used is unknown to the writer. Note that the vast majority of the allocated water comes underground wells, primarily Well 5 in Sierra Canyon, which has been the primary source of irrigation water for the SGCC. Whereas the Canyon9 irrigation water, which is minor compared to the SGCC, originates from the Truckee River.

SOA Water Permits

At the last SOA BOD Meeting, the BOD President, Tom Fitzgerald, remarked on “using it or losing it” when speaking about the Water Rights, and the SOA General Manager, Tracy Carter, remarked that Well 5 was no longer producing at the rate it should be for irrigation of the SGCC, which raises the following questions:

  1. If we are not using all, or the majority, of the water authorized under the permits, where can additional uses be applied, if anywhere, and what would be the cost?
  2. Is it possible that unused water rights could be sold off?
  3. If the Well 5 is no longer producing as required, where is the SGCC getting the additional water for irrigation? The alternate source is from the Truckee River, via the Canyon9 pond, but will this result in exceeding the Truckee River Permits?
  4. If a new well to replace Well 5 is required to provide sufficient irrigation water for the SGCC, a very expensive process, who will pay for it?

In addition, with regard to the Committee objective that “Water Rights as granted never terminate or revert back to their origins and are managed within the state, federal, and local laws are requirements as outlined in any and all water rights licenses or agreements”, who is ultimately responsible for this? The answer being that the SGCC is, this per Article 3.1 (d) of the Water Facilities Agreement which states: “The Operating Manager (defined as the SGCC) shall insure that the Water Rights are used so that they are kept in good standing and not subject to forfeiture or abandonment for non-use pursuant to the laws and regulations of the State of Nevada”

is indeed all well and good for the SOA to oversee that the SGCC lives up to the terms of the Water Facilities Agreement, but under the Water Facilities Agreement, the costs for managing the Water Rights and maintaining the Water Facilities lies with the SGCC.

Additional information about the Somersett Water Rights and Water Facilities may be accessed via the following links: