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Mineral County v. Lyon County

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20218
Nos. 75917, (Nev., 09/17/2020)

The Nevada Supreme Court held that the public trust doctrine did not permit reallocation of water rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation in a lawsuit concerning established water rights for a deteriorating lake in western Nevada. The court found that while the lake's decline was negatively impacting the surrounding wildlife, resources, and economy, it could not "use the public trust doctrine as a tool to uproot an entire water system, particularly where finality [was] firmly rooted in [the state's] statutes." If the court allowed the state to otherwise allocate waters without regard for the public trust, it would be permitting the state to evade its fiduciary duties, and it therefore declined to do so.