The bipartisan bill, which was sponsored by Eureka senator Pete Goicoechea, would prevent water users from making claims on billions of gallons of water previously available to develop, reported the Nevada Independent.
Nevada is the driest state in the USA with an average precipitation rate of less than 10 inches per year, but over-appropriation has seen the state assign more water rights than there is the groundwater to satisfy, an issue partly responsible for over half of the Silver State's 256 groundwater basins being out of balance. The new law aims to create buffers in aquifers where water is still available to prevent over-appropriation in the future.
United States Geological Survey (USGS) data from 2015 show that irrigation accounts for 69.7% of water use in Nevada, followed by public use at 17.9% and mining at 7%.
"This is definitely a step in the right direction," said Laurel Saito, the Nevada water program director for The Nature Conservancy, which testified in favor of the bill.
Reservation of groundwater is a more common practice in Australia than America's west, although states such as Montana, North Dakota and Utah have codes allowing them to reserve some water.