Water Development Information

So what exactly is a water development (also referred to as guzzlers)? Guzzlers are made out of metal, fiberglass or other suitable materials and are built in areas where there is not enough water to support wildlife without a supplemental water sources. While guzzlers are built to primarily benefit big game and upland bird species, they also provide a valuable source of water for wildlife of all types and sizes. An “apron” structure collects rainwater or snowmelt and stores it in tanks; the tanks then feed the water to a drinker that can be accessed by wildlife. NDOW, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have installed more than 1,600 guzzlers throughout Nevada.

There are two main differences in any water development: the way the precipitation is caught and how the water is stored and made available to the wildlife. Large volume guzzlers have one or more tanks that typically hold 1,800 to 3,600 gallons of water each and are constructed with a 30x40 foot metal apron. They benefit such target species as bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn antelope and mule deer.. Small volume guzzlers typically benefit such target species as chukar, sage grouse and quail and have one or more 325 gallon capacity storage tanks with an 8x12 foot metal apron.. Fence material is often added to keep livestock, wild horses and burros away from the guzzlers.

If you come across a damaged or vandalized guzzler, please call our hotline:
NDOW Guzzler Maintenance Hotline: (775) 688-1537

Wildlife Development Atlas

Guzzler AtlasNDOW has updated the Water Development Atlas and it is now on sale for $50. This new edition is very popular and vastly improved compared to previous editions.

The atlas includes 160 full color topographic map pages drawn at a 1:144,000 scale covering the entire state. Not only is this the first update in seven years, it has been ‘downsized’ a little so it is easier to carry. . Additionally, all maps in the atlas are drawn using the UTM Zone 11 coordinate system, North American Datum 1983. The atlas now includes the UTMs for all of the guzzlers rather than selling the coordinates in a separate table as a supplement to the atlas.

Pick up the new Atlas at your local NDOW office today or go to our Publications page for a downloadable PDF order form.  

Why are Guzzlers Important in Nevada?

The survival of Nevada’s wildlife is partially dependant on their adaptability to the state’s arid conditions and the ability to find water sources, ranging from natural springs or puddles to raindrops on leaves and dew on grass. Animals also get water from the foods they eat. Lack of water can sometimes lead wildlife to turn away from quality Nevada habitats that would otherwise suit their needs. Guzzlers allow Nevada’s wildlife to take advantage of this otherwise suitable habitat.

“Building a water development will allow certain species to utilize habitat that they previously could not, thus introducing or expanding that population in that specific area,” NDOW biologist Clint Garrett says.

“With the amount of urbanization and human encroachment that has taken place, wildlife water developments provide us with another "tool" for wildlife management.”

What Kind of Wildlife uses Guzzlers?

Upland game like chukar, sage grouse and rabbits use the water developments, as do big game like deer, bighorn sheep and antelope. Even other non-game species, such as lizards, bluebirds and kangaroo rats frequent these developments. And that’s only a sampling of the critters that can be spotted indulging in a water break by a guzzler.

“The diversity is pretty incredible. We have found frogs in both big and small water developments and see elk and everything else in between drinking at the guzzlers,” said Garrett. “Even animals that you don't normally see or think would utilize the water source can be found, like bats and iguanas.”

Where can you find Guzzlers in Nevada?

Not sure which direction to head to find a guzzler? For $50, you can purchase a Nevada Wildlife Water Development Atlas from your nearest NDOW office and take your choice of more than 1,500 guzzlers to visit. There are 292 large guzzlers and 1,256 smaller guzzlers in the state.

The Atlas includes 160 full color topographic map pages drawn at a 1:144,000 scale covering the entire state. Not only is this the first update in seven years, it has been ‘downsized’ a little to a more carry-able size (similar to a Gazetteer). However the NDOW Atlas is actually superior to a Gazetteer which maps are at a scale of 1:250,000. Additionally, all maps in the Atlas are drawn using the UTM Zone 11 coordinate system, North American Datum 1983. We have once again included the UTMs for all the guzzlers rather than selling it as a supplement to the atlas.

Upland Game Bird Hunters Now Key in Supporting Nevada’s Small Guzzlers

Funds from the new $10 upland game stamp required for all upland game bird hunters (excluding turkey, dove and crow hunters) will go specifically to help develop and preserve upland game habitat. A large portion of this money will go directly to the maintenance and development of guzzlers, which are essential to upland game birds like chukar and grouse. While some hunters may be skeptical upon first hearing about the the new fee, they can be assured that upland game will benefit.

This new stamp provides badly needed funding to build new guzzlers, maintain existing guzzlers, and continue the program to benefit Nevada’s wildlife. Even with all the time, money and other contributions from dedicated volunteers and organizations statewide, Nevada’s guzzlers faced a bleak future without this funding.

“Maintenance of our over 1,550 guzzlers, at current effort levels will take years to complete,” Doug Hunt, NDOW Habitat Bureau Chief explained. “In the western region alone, it would take seven years to catch up on the maintenance of the 812 total guzzlers in that area.”

That’s seven years too long for the wildlife that depends on these water sources. The Nevada Wildlife Commission agreed, and the Legislature supported and passed this upland game bird stamp to support wildlife water needs more immediately.

“Many of the units are in need of minor to major repairs and it was determined that a consistent source of funds was desirable to fund a guzzler maintenance crew to perform these duties statewide,” said Hunt. Now that the project is funded, a two person NDOW maintenance crew will tackle the guzzlers. NDOW estimates that the crew will be able to focus on approximately 100 guzzlers per year with efforts ranging from light maintenance to complete rebuilds.

While NDOW and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) work cooperatively to construct and maintain a large portion of the developments, a substantial number of these developments would not be possible without the dedicated help of organizations that volunteer and contribute manpower, time and money to construct or help maintain the developments in the state. Large developments can cost about $13,500 in materials alone. Guzzlers take two weeks to build with a two-man crew. Smaller developments cost about $1,200 and can be built in one half day. The new stamp helps ensure that the efforts of these groups are not in vain.

Nevada Chukar Foundation initiated the water development program and continues its strong support. Other organizations like Carson Valley Chukar Club, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited, One Shot Antelope Club, Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, Quail Unlimited, several mining companies, and many others have contributed time and money towards the program.

"It's not surprising to hear that it will take so long to catch up on the guzzler program. Members of the public have stood up at our local County Advisory Boards to tell us about the state of disrepair of many Nevada guzzlers. These dedicated people are often taking their own time and effort to make the needed repairs," said Gil Yanuck, a Nevada hunter, county advisory board member and Nevada sage grouse conservation planning member. "I think it is a very positive step that NDOW will now have the funds to address these challenges, and work toward benefiting all wildlife."


The volunteer program has proven to be beneficial for the construction and maintenance of water developments throughout the state. Attached is a form used to keep the guzzler data base current on maintenance. This database informs us of what year a guzzler was last maintained and allows the guzzler to be monitored on a scheduled basis.

Please use this form for any repaired, in need of repair and/or general evaluation of a guzzler. Even if the guzzler is in good condition, please note this on the form and mail to Winnemucca field office:

Nevada Department of Wildlife
815 E. Fourth St.
Winnemucca, NV 89445

Download the Guzzler Form

If possible, please include a photograph of the guzzler and use UTM’s as the source of location information.

Thanks for your help in maintaining Nevada's wildlife water development resources.