Water planning in the desert

  Residents of the driest state in the nation use more water per person than almost anyone else in the country. But change may be forced on Nevada by sustained drought and record population growth. The State Division of Water Planning is drafting a new policy to guide water-planning decisions for the next 20 years. The first phase of the plan will identify major water issues; the second phase will develop management plans for Nevada's major drainage basins. "A major goal of the policy is to make water planning more comprehensive and more accessible to the public and the legislature - to articulate where we are and where we are going," says Naomi Duerr, state water planner. State agencies are currently defining critical water issues such as mine dewatering, maintenance of instream flows, water basin transfers, wetlands management and water quality protection. A draft plan will be completed by late September. Public workshops are planned throughout the state in October and November to discuss the draft. After revision, the policy plan will be presented to the State Legislature in 1995. Work will then begin on the long process of developing water resource management plans for individual drainage basins. For more information or to get on the mailing list, write Division of Water Planning, 123 W. Nye Lane, Room 180, Carson City, NV 89710 (702/687-3600).