On April 8, 2015, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed an executive order establishing the Nevada Drought Forum (“Drought Forum”). While Sandoval’s executive order was heralded with less fanfare than the one recently issued by California Governor Jerry Brown, it too is designed to address drought conditions in the state.
One of the primary tasks of the Drought Forum will be to evaluate the findings and next steps in the forthcoming Western Governors’ Drought Forum Final Report (“WGA Report”). In addition, the Drought Forum will compile a summary of drought-related actions currently undertaken by local, state and federal entities and will seek input from interested stakeholders on the current actions and the recommendations from the WGA Report. A written report will be submitted to the governor by November 1, 2015.
The Drought Forum will be comprised of eight specific members, but the governor maintains flexibility to add additional members that he deems necessary. The designated members are:
• The Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
• The Director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture
• The State Engineer
• The Chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management
• The Nevada State Climatologist
• The Dean of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
• A representative from the Desert Research Institute, and
• A representative from Southern Nevada Water Authority.
“Drought affects all Nevadans and we must work together to ensure a path to sustainability for future generations,” said Governor Brian Sandoval. “The Nevada Drought Forum will bring
together some of the best minds in the water science, conservation, government and industry sectors to ensure that Nevada’s path forward is clear. The Forum will provide an opportunity for all Nevadans— urban and rural, north and south—to come together to help address this most critical challenge.”
Nevada is in its fourth year of drought. Some areas have received 65% or less of their normal annual precipitation in each of the last four years—and, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, drought conditions are expected to intensify.
Several state agencies are already engaged in addressing the drought by conducting a public outreach program, coordinating with emergency management organizations and developing comprehensive drought plans, maintaining awareness of the drought situation throughout the state, and maintaining a website that presents current drought conditions and drought recovery resources. In addition, the State Engineer’s rulemaking authority can be used to impose additional rules, regulations or orders in areas where additional management is needed. The Drought Forum will build upon this existing work.
Written by Marta L. Weismann