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Buying water rights is complicated

Q: I am looking for ranch property in the Las Vegas Valley. I know there is not a lot available but I have seen some. I wonder if you can buy the water rights in Nevada and how does that work? Also, what does it mean when it says water rights at 100 feet?

A: The answer is yes, you can purchase water rights in Nevada, but it can be complicated. There are real estate brokers and attorneys who specialize in water rights and real estate. When speaking to a real estate professional or attorney, make sure that he or she has a strong background in water rights focused on real estate.

There are different types of water rights, and some expire if not used. The water rights depend on the year (1905 to 1945) they were issued.

More information regarding water rights can be verified with the state Division of Water Resources in Carson City. Good Internet resources to consult are water.nv.gov/waterright and waterrights.com.

A question which is important to ask: How many feet per acre does the water rights have? It is the water volume per acre foot. There is a formula to convert the usage and define the amount of water that can be used with these rights. The calculation gives the number of gallons that can be used. There is a rule of thumb in U.S. water management that one acre-foot is the planned water usage of a suburban family household. This is important to have defined, to know what you are purchasing and expert can help with this.

There are good reasons to have a professional help to determine what kind of water rights are being purchased.

— Vickey England, real estate consultant, Coldwell Banker Premier Realty

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