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Conjunctive Management of the Humboldt River Basin and Effects on Small Businesses

The State Engineer held informational meetings on July 17 through July 20, 2017 regarding its Preliminary Draft Humboldt River Conjunctive Management Regulations. The State Engineer is proceeding through administrative rulemaking process to define how Humboldt River Decreed water rights and groundwater rights will be conjunctively managed. If you were unable to attend the informational meetings, you can view the power point used during these meetings by visiting

As a brief history, the Humboldt River was adjudicated in the 1930’s and large scale groundwater development began approximately 20 years later. Existing studies support the assertion that groundwater pumping is depleting surface river flows. The groundwater basins surrounding the Humboldt River are over-appropriated as the amount of water withdrawals allotted by water rights exceed the perennial yield. As an alternative to curtailing water, the State Engineer is considering Conjunctive Management Regulations. The main objectives of these regulations are to maximize beneficial use of our limited water supply, allow for continued and uninterrupted groundwater use and provide mitigation to senior Decreed water right holders for conflicts of their delivery of surface water. These regulations aim to allow for replacement of injurious depletions to the senior surface right holders, and if replacement water is not available, to require groundwater users to participate in a basin-wide mitigation plan providing mitigation by financial compensation.

At this stage in the rule making process, the State Engineer is attempting to determine if the regulations are likely to place an economic burden on small businesses, and if so, to determine the extent of the impact. Small businesses can submit economic impact statements to the State Engineer for consideration. There are no current deadlines imposed by NDWR for submission of small business impact statements or comments to statements, however, it is likely that we will see some movement within as little as 30 days.


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