CARSON CITY — A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that blocked the use of Newlands Project water to support waterfowl in the Fallon area.
The Nevada Appeal reported the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed this week with U.S. District Court in Reno that the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Nevada Waterfowl Association plan violated permitted uses of the water.
State officials argued since the transferred water would be used to grow plants consumed by waterfowl, the plan constituted irrigation under the Alpine Decree.
The state engineer agreed and approved the transfer of 3.5 acre-feet of water with the Newlands Project to the Carson Lake and Pasture, a wildlife refuge near Fallon.
But the Pyramid Paiute Tribe and federal government opposed the plan, saying Newlands water can only be diverted for agricultural purposes and that supporting wildlife doesn’t qualify.
The appeals court agreed, saying the Alpine Decree and Nevada water law describe irrigation only in the context of agriculture.
The Newlands Project provides water from the Truckee and Carson rivers to farmers and ranchers around Fallon.