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Letter from Leo A. McNamee (Las Vegas) to Thomas A. Campbell (Las Vegas), March 19, 1954







Summary of the water rights purchased by the Union Pacific Railroad from Helen Stewart to pass to the Las Vegas Valley Water District.

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Box 25 Folder 80-11 Vol. 5 of 7 LVL&W Co. Sale of Water Production of UPRR Co.


hln001217. Union Pacific Railroad Collection, 1828-1995. MS-00397. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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MCNAMEE & MCNAMEE ATTORNEYS AT LAW EL PORTAL BUILDING LAS VEGAS. NEVADA TELEPHONE 1888 1954 Las Vegas Valley Water District 900 South Fifth Street Las Vegas, Nevada Attention: Mr. Thomas A. Campbell, President Dear Sir: Re: Existing Water and Water Rights. Pursuant to the agreement dated June 1, 1953, between Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Company, Union Pacific Railroad Company and Las Vegas Land and Water Company, ("First Parties) and Las Vegas Valley Water district District"), the District is purchasing certain land belonging to First it parties and all of the water and rights to any water rising upon or flowing from Any of the springs or wells located upon said land. Upon this land are located what has for years been called the Las Vegas Springs, from which the Town (now City) of Vegas derived its municipal supply of water. Originally the water from these springs was used to irrigate what was known the Stewart Ranch. This ranch, and the land you are purchasing from the First Parties and all of the waters and water rights pertaining thereto ware purchased by First Parties from the Stewarts prior to 1905, and as there was no comprehensive water law in the State of Nevada until the year 1905, the right to waters appropriated and used beneficially prior to said year are vested rights. The First Parties' rights to the waters from Las Vegas Springs have never been questioned, and it is any opinion that said rights are un- assailable. (The Stewarts reserved a continuous flow of four miners inches for the purpose of irrigating what is known as the 'Stewart burial Plot," a four acre tract, and this supply is now furnished by pipe lines.) About 1943 the first parties realized that steps would have to be taken to increase the supply of water in order to keep up with the increase in population in said area, and First Parties decided to drill for water upon their lands located in the vicinity of said springs. Well No. 1, a 12 inch well, was drilled to a depth of six or seven hundred feet, and resulted in Las Vegas Valley Water Dist.-2- March 19. 1954 tapping an artesian Low which produced a flow of over six cubic feet of water per second. Three separate applications were made to the state engineer of the state of Nevada for permission to appropriate said water: One by Las Vegas Land and water Company for 2.30 c.fs. thereof for municipal supply and one by said water Company for l.88 c.f.s. thereof for irriga- tion purposes; the third, for 2.5 c.f.s. tnereof by the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Company for railroad purposes, fire protection and domestic. Permits were issued on said applications and all of the condi- tions of said permits complied with and there now appears of record in the office of the County Recorder of Clark County, Nevada, certificates of ap- propriation issued by the state engineer of the State of Nevada certifying that the applicants have appropriated and have applied to a beneficial use the amounts of water specific, and that the date of the priority of each said appropriation is August 23, 1924. The application by the Land and water Company for municipal purpose and its application tor irrigation purposes recited that they were to be concurrent, the reason being that more water was developed than could be used for municipal purposes at the time and order to prevent wastage the excess was used to irrigate the Stewart ranch, but with the understanding that as the municipal demands increased the applicant would use the irrigation water for municipal supply, even to the extent of depriving the htewart ranch of irrigation water. The 2.5 c.f.s. appropriated by the Railroad Company for railroad purposes is included in the sale to the Water District, the Railroad Company reserving the right to apply to the State Engineer for permission to change the point of diversion of said 2. 5 c.f.s. from said Well No. 1 to a well located on its shop ground. As the population grew, the First parties drilled more wells so that at the present time there are altogether eleven wells upon the lands being purchased by the District, the waters from which are appropriated for muni- cipal supply and certificates of appropriation issued by the State Engineer of the State of Nevada are of record in the County Recorder's office, for all of the waters from each of said wells. The total amount appropriated, according to said certificates of appropriation i* 25.87 c.f.s., including the 6.68 c.f.s. from said Well No. 1. It is my opinion that the First Parties and their successors and assigns are entitled to use, for municipal supply, all of the waters produced from these eleven wells, and I am further of the opinion that should the under- ground aquifers from which these wells draw their respective amounts of Las Vegas Valley Water Dist.-3- March 19, 1954 water be depleted or lessened by an appropriator whose priority is later than that of First Parties, such later appropriator would be required to plug his well and be enjoined from using water therefrom. As to the acquiring of additional water from the Colorado River; Under date of June 19. 1950, the Water District made application to the State Engineer for permission to appropriate cubic feet per second of water (43,000 acre feet per annum) from Lake Mead and the Colorado River for municipal purposes. A permit was granted under date of January 31, 1951, which permit is in good standing. The District has until January 24, 1962, in which to apply the appropriated water to a beneficial use. Under date of May 23, 1952, the District entered into an agree- ment with Basic Management. Inc. whereby Basic Management, Inc. will deliver into the District's water system, through B. M.I's existing water plant and system, up to 5,000,000 gallons of water per day, and up to 13,753, gallons per day after the District shall have, at its own expense installed pumps and other facilities sufficient to handle such increased quantity. (The B. M. I. water system consists of intake pumps at the point of diversion on Lake Mead, and a 49" pipe line extending from the Lake to Henderson, Nevada.) In my opinion said agreement is a binding obligation on both parties thereto. In Nevada the water of all sources of water supply, within the boundaries of the state. whether above or beneath the surface of the ground, belongs to the public, subject to emitting right, all such waters may be ap- propriated for beneficial use as provided by our Nevada statutes and not otherwise. The determination of the relative rights to water and the administration of said rights in Nevada are imposed upon the State Engineer of the state. subject to court confirmations if disputes arise- Very truly yours, Leo McNamee