Department of Water Resources

Interbasin Transfer

Interbasin Transfer

Due to the state's arid climate and limited water resources, transferring water from one basin to another is not new to Nevada. In fact, the first interbasin transfer occurred in 1873, when water from Hobart Reservoir in the Washoe Valley Hydrographic Basin was conveyed to Virginia City, which is within the Dayton Valley Hydrographic Basin. Many interbasin transfers have been completed since then in nearly every region of the state.
In determining whether an application for an interbasin transfer of water should be approved or rejected, under NRS 533.370 the State Engineer must consider:
  • Whether the applicant has justified the need to import the water from another basin.
  • Whether a conservation plan has been adopted and is being effectively carried out, if the State Engineer determines that such a plan is advisable for the basin into which water is to be imported.
  • Whether the proposed action is environmentally sound as is relates to the basin from which the water is exported.
  • Whether the proposed action is an appropriate long-term use that will not unduly limit the future growth and development in the basin from which the water is exported.
  • Any other factor(s) the Office of the State Engineer determines to be relevant.
The applicant may also work with the county from which the water is proposed to be transferred to develop a plan to mitigate adverse economic impacts of the transfer. If a plan cannot be agreed to, the county (with the approval of the State Engineer) has the option to impose an annual fee on the water transferred. The amount of the fee is defined in NRS 533.438.
  • Is there unappropriated water at the source?
  • Will the use of the water under the proposed application conflict with existing rights?
  • Will the use of the water under the proposed application prove detrimental to the public interest?
  • Will the use of the water under the proposed application adversely impact domestic wells?
The chart below, adapted from the 1999 Nevada State Water Plan, shows interbasin water transfers throughout the state since 1873.
Groundwater Transfers
Basin of OriginReceiving BasinType of Use
Washoe Valley Eagle Valley Carson City Municipal Supply
Goshute Valley Great Salt Lake Desert Wendover Municipal Supply
Pilot Creek Valley Great Salt Lake Desert Wendover Municipal Supply
Long Valley Cold Springs Valley Municipal Supply
Ralston Valley Big Smokey Valley Tonopah Municipal Supply
Carson Valley Eagle Valley Carson City Municipal Supply
Dayton Valley Eagle Valley Carson City Municipal Supply
L. Meadow Valley Wash Muddy River Springs Area Reid Gardner Power Plant
Oreana Sub-area Lovelock Valley Lovelock municipal supply
Surface Water Transfers
Basin of OriginReceiving BasinType of Use
Lake Tahoe Basin Eagle Valley Carson City Municipal Supply
Lake Tahoe Basin Dayton Valley Wendover Municipal Supply
Truckee River (Tracy Segment) Carson River (Churchill Valley via Truckee Canal) Truckee-Carson Irrigation District for Irrigation
Newark Valley (Spring) Diamond Valley Eureka Municipal Supply
Lake Tahoe Basin (Treated Effluent) Carson Valley Irrigation
Truckee River (Truckee Meadows) Lemmon Valley Municipal Supply
Carson River (Dayton Valley) Eagle Valley Carson City Municipal Supply
Colorado River (Black Mountain Area) Las Vegas Valley Las Vegas Area Municipal Supply
Truckee River (Truckee Meadows) Spanish Springs Valley (via Orr Ditch) Irrigation
Truckee River (Truckee Meadows) Sun Valley Municipal Supply