Balancing water demands between human, agriculture and environmental needs was Wednesday’s focus of the “Get on the Bus” tour at the River Fork Ranch in Genoa.
“It’s going to be dry, that’s what Mother Nature has given us,” said Ed James, general manager for the Carson Water Subconservancy District. “But there are things each area can do to help.”
The tour and its 54 participants visited the west fork of the Carson River where work has been done to rebuild flood plains harmed by dredging.
James cited flood plain management—even in a drought year—as an important step in water conservation for the upper watershed area, which encompasses the west fork of the Carson River.
“Keeping fields open alleviates flood damage,” he said. “It’s cost effective and it keeps habitats green.”
He said another way the different counties and communities along the Carson River watershed can conserve water is to find ways to reuse it.
“The Lost Lake reservoir in Alpine County is used in the summer for recreation, then it’s released into the Carson Valley in the fall and pumped up to Carson City for human use after that,” he said.
Recycling water can help conserve it during drought years when snowpack does not replenish the watershed, he said.
“People are interested,” he said. “It’s a great way to learn about the watershed. People care but they don’t know about the surrounding areas (outside of Carson City).”
The Carson River watershed extends from Alpine County all the way to the Carson Sink northeast of Fallon.
“It’s a diverse group and many of them are already water professionals,” James said. “They come from different interests and backgrounds but I think the tour gives them a better understanding of water demands.”
Concerns about the watershed’s health along with education drew people to the tour this year.
Carson Valley resident Deni French said that a speech given by James at the governor’s mansion sparked his interest.
“I’ve been here 12 years and I’m just now getting involved,” he said. “I’m just learning about the water situation but never really explored it.”
Nature Conservancy volunteer Norah Gastelum spoke about the Brockliss Slough’s willow art sculpture and how it’s being used to recreate the floodplain on the former cow ranch.
“People are really going to have to pay attention to where their water comes from,” she said. “So many people turn on the faucet and think it will always be there.”
The “Get on the Bus” tour continues today and will visit the lower watershed in Lyon and Churchill counties.