House bill includes protection from federal takings of water rights

CARSON CITY — Language to protect privately held water rights from federal takings was included in an appropriations bill that is awaiting action in Congress, U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei announced Wednesday.

“Nothing in federal law grants federal land managers jurisdiction over Nevada’s groundwater,” the Northern Nevada Republican said in a statement. “That responsibility is one of the few states’ rights remaining in Nevada and I will work all day, every day to keep it.”

The language was drafted by Reps. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and Amodei for House Resolution 3189, the Water Rights Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives on March 13. Its inclusion in the appropriations bill increases the chances it will be signed into law, Amodei said.

Forty members of Congress, including Amodei, and the Western Governors Association, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, recently sent letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture expressing concern about a new proposed directive that could affect states’ authority over their water resources.

Amodei said including the language in the Interior appropriations bill will “keep the pressure on the federal government to comply with state rules and decisions when it comes to Nevada’s groundwater.”

“Anything less amounts to what increasingly looks like a war on the West by this administration,” he said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.