Frequently Asked Questions


Water Rights

Q: Is a permit required to drill a domestic well within the State of Nevada?

A: No. Domestic wells are the only type of water well exempt from the State Engineer's permitting process (Nevada Revised Statutes §534.080 and §534.180). Domestic use is defined as uses associated with culinary and household purposes directly related to a single-family dwelling, including, without limitation, the watering of a family garden and lawn and the watering of livestock and any other domestic animals or household pets, if the amount of water drawn does not exceed 1,800 gallons per day.

Q: When is the drilling of a domestic well forbidden?

A: When the subject parcel of land can be physically and legally supplied water from a public water supply.

Q: Can I have two or more homes served by a single domestic well?

A: No. Except for the provision described in §NRS 534.185, domestic use as defined under §NRS 534.013 is very specific in that the use is limited to one single-family dwelling. Multiple dwellings are considered a quasi-municipal use and thus, require a permit. A quasi-municipal well is often times referred to as a community well.

Q: When can I file Proof of Beneficial Use?

A: After completion of the approved permitted manner of use.  If a totalizing meter was required in the permit terms, then twelve (12) consecutive months of meter readings must be submitted along with the Proof of Benefical Use.

Example 1:Permit A is permitted for quasi-municipal purposes for 4 homes and a totalizing meter is required.  Twelve months after completion of all 4 homes and landscaping, the Proof of Beneficial Use may be submitted along with 12 months of meter readings.

Example 2: Permit B is permitted for the irrigation of 10 acres and a totalizing meter is required.  After a crop is grown and harvested, the Proof of Beneficial Use may be submitted along with meter readings for the irrigation season during which the crop was grown.

Q: Can I have more than one home on the same parcel of land?

A: That is a local government decision. There are counties within Nevada that allow more than one livable structure on the same parcel. You should check with the local governing body. However, if more than one structure is allowed on the same parcel, a domestic well can still only serve one dwelling and thus the number of domestic wells needed must match the number of dwellings being served. Septic tank concentration and well separation must be considered and must comply with local or state health laws.

Q: If water service hook-up is available for my house, do I have to connect to the service?

A: The State Engineer may require the plugging of a domestic well drilled on or after July 1, 1981, at anytime one year after water can be furnished by a political subdivision of the State or a public utility regulated by the public utility commission of Nevada, but only if the connecting fees are less than $200 (§NRS 534.180).  Exceptions for designated basins are noted in §NRS 534.120.  However, it has been the Division's policy to not require the hook-up to a water system until such time that the domestic well requires repair work requiring the setting-up of a well rig.

Q: When is an environmental permit required?

A: Pursuant to §NRS 533.4373(1), an environmental permit is required when, under order from the Division of Environmental Protection, it is required to appropriate water for treatment/clean-up and then discharge the clean water to a different source. 

Q: How do I make a complaint to the State Engineer when I believe that someone is in violation of water law, regulations, permit terms, orders, or other requirements of the State Engineer?

A: Complete a Request to Investigate an Alleged Violation form and submit it to the Division of Water Resources at 901 S. Stewart St., Suite 2002, Carson City, NV 89701.

Q: Where can I read the statutes and regulations regarding enforcement?

A: The Nevada legislature website provides links to the the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) and Nevada Administrative Code (NAC). Since the "fines and penalties" statutes were signed into law during the 2007 legislature, the language can be found under NRS §533.481, §534.193, §535.200, and §536.200. Regulations implementing these statutes are adopted under NAC Chapter 532.

Q: What are the possible penalties for someone found to be in violation of water law, regulations, permit terms, orders, or other requirements of the State Engineer?

A: Possible penalties after the regulatory process are (per NRS §533.481, §534.193, §535.200, and §536.200):

  • Payment of an administrative fine not to exceed $10,000 per day for each violation
  • Replacement of not more than 200% of the water used, wasted, or diverted; and/or
  • Payment of the costs of the proceeding, including investigative costs and attorney's fees