Water Resources

Water in an irrigation  canal

Water is a limited and invaluable resource, particularly in a desert environment where average annual precipitation is less than 5 inches. The primary source of water for Churchill County’s largest population is drawn from an intermediate aquifer beneath the Lahontan Valley, known as hydrographic Basin 101. This aquifer is over-appropriated and recharge is reliant upon seepage from the Carson River, leakage from the network of canals and drains within the Newlands Project, and irrigation.

The protection of this precious resource is of paramount importance, and retention of surface-water rights to sustain recharge is vital. Therefore, the County requires that all new developments dedicate water rights to the County so that a healthy aquifer will be maintained, and a sustainable water supply will be secured for future generations. Water-right dedication requirements are outlined in Chapter 13.02, Section 14.04.020.B and Section of the Churchill County Code. Policies regarding water resources are found in Section 3 of the 2015 Master Plan (PDF).

The County Water Resource Plan (PDF) (46.4 MB) and its update (2007) (PDF) (40.1 MB) projects water demand under different growth scenarios through 2050 and provides several alternatives for meeting these projected demands. Considering the limited supply, conservation measures for all water users are critical for long-term sustainability and the 2019 Water Conservation Plan Update (PDF) identifies the numerous ways water conservation is promoted.

In December 2015, the Board of County Commissioners adopted the Community Source Water Protection Plan (PDF) (18.3 MB) for public water systems in Churchill County. This Plan provides a framework for the long-term protection of public drinking water supply sources. The Plan identifies goals, drinking water resources, potential contaminant sources, strategies, and actions to prevent drinking water contamination. An important aspect of the plan includes public education and outreach.