The latest decision sends Southern Nevada Water Authority back to square one requiring the state engineer to renotice and reopen the protest period on all 1989 SNWA applications. The Court also clarified that its ruling pertains only to protested applications and not unrelated applications pending before the State Engineer.
The case originally brought by the Great Basin Water Network, Defenders of Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, and fifty individual area residents, claimed that the State Engineer had failed to take timely action on the original water applications filed in 1989 and had improperly excluded groups and individuals from participating in the water appropriation process.
Simeon Herskovits, lead attorney for opponents, said “The Nevada Supreme Court’s new, modified opinion confirms its central holding in this case. The Court held that the State Engineer’s previous rulings on SNWA’s contested 1989 applications effectively are void, and those applications must be subjected to a new public notice and reopened protest process, thus creating a new opportunity for anyone with an interest to protest these applications and challenge the State Engineer’s flawed previous rulings."he said.
Herskovits said, “The Court also expressly addressed and disapproved of the efforts of SNWA and allied interest groups to manipulate the Legislature to retroactively change the record as to the 2003 Legislature’s intent regarding its statutory amendments to state law affecting the 1989 applications. The Court pointed out to do so would be illegitimate and would not merit deference from the courts,” he said.
The Court remanded the case to the district court for judicial review with instructions to, in turn, send the case back to the State Engineer for further proceedings.
Nevada Supreme Court Ruling