State Engineer v. Happy Creek, Inc.Annotate this Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision to reinstate Happy Creek, Inc.'s original water rights' priority dates in equity, holding that, under the extraordinary circumstances of this case, the district court properly granted equitable relief for Happy Creek.
As mandated by Nev. Rev. Stat. 533.410 the State Engineer canceled Happy Creek's ground water permits after Happy Creek's agent missed a filing deadline by a few weeks. Accordingly, Happy Creek lost more than fifty years of priority in water rights despite having invested $1 million in improving water-use efficiency and having met the other substantive criteria for maintaining priority of its water rights. Happy Creek's groundwater rights were in an over-appropriated basin, and therefore, Happy Creek was threatened with complete loss of use of water. The district court granted equitable relief by restoring Happy Creek's original senior priority dates. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that pursuant to State Engineer v. American National Insurance Co., 498 P.2d 1329 (Nev. 1972), and its progeny, the district court properly granted Happy Creek equitable relief.