Open mouth insert foot...

In his second week in office Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons is sticking his foot in it. Today's Review Journal has this funny article. Or it would be funny if it was in Mad Magazine. Alas it is for real and run in a would-be newspaper.

The basic points are that Gibbons thinks the state can pay for it's highways by selling the water rights under the existing highways. We do understand that as a long-time friend of the mining industry Gibbons might think water rights are somehow similar to mineral rights. Even then, however, one would think he would know that the ownership of underground minerals doesn't go with the surface rights. Then again none of this matters.

In Nevada water rights are held by the state. They are granted to parties upon approval of the application and proof of beneficial use. As the article states "the Nevada Division of Water Resources' Web site shows that the Transportation Department owns numerous water rights in basins throughout the state." The web site they are referring to is this one. It does indeed show that the Transportation Department has water rights in several basins around the state. However even a cursory look through those applications suggests many are either for wildlife or are very small allotments (some even as small as 1 Acre Foot per year) of quasi-municipal water rights. It would be easy to surmise these are related to the maintenance of residences at state highway maintenance yards and rest areas.

Perhaps the whole state highway system can end up looking like this.