Drought limits water season
March 11, 2014
It's been another long, dry winter and the forecast is not any better.
As a result of a crippling drought and well below average snowpack in the Sierra mountains, farmers and ranchers will have a limited water season.
On Friday, Truckee-Carson Irrigation District voted to set water allocations, orders and deadlines at its monthly board of directors meeting.
The board approved a 40 percent allocation for the Carson and Truckee divisions. Water orders will start March 24 and deliveries will begin once 1,000 acre-feet have been ordered.
In addition, the board approved the end of the season either on July 31 or when Lahontan Reservoir reaches a minimum pool of 8,000 acre-feet.
The allocations, water orders and end of the season will be revisited at each monthly board meeting and may be altered depending on forecasts and current conditions. Director Eric Olsen said a special meeting of directors may be called during the spring or summer months to re-evaluate the state of water in the Newlands Project.
"Now we are trying to be cautious," he said. "If we set it a little low, we can always go up."
The board spent more than 30 minutes discussing the allocation and the options facing the project in the coming months. They did, however, stress on keeping an open dialogue with water users, especially if any significant storms impact the region in the coming weeks and months.
Despite the grim outlook, TCID President Ernie Schank and Director Dave Stix Jr. urged water users to irrigate as normal. The two directors said using this method would allow users an equal opportunity of irrigating and possibly reaching two or three crop yields.
Stix also addressed concerns of a possible shut-off date of around July 15 for the Truckee Division. He said it is likely water will not be available through July 31, although he again advised Truckee water users to irrigate as normal.
"The Truckee Division is not going to get a 100 percent (allocation), we know that," Stix said.
The minimum pool of 8,000 acre-feet, meanwhile, was reached due to the timing of the tentative closing date for the season. Since a July 31 deadline was imposed, the board, along with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said the limit would allow fish to survive during the hottest months of the year.
In addition, evaporation in those months can reach 4 inches per month off the elevation surface.
Last year's minimum pool was set at 4,000 acre-feet, but because the season is expected to close two months earlier, paired with environmental circumstances, doubling the pool was necessary.
"If we set both divisions the same, we could possibly see some output into Lahontan," Schank said.
The district will rely on Floristan rates, which will allow for Lahontan Reservoir to be recharged, albeit by a trickle, until Sept. 4, accorinding to TCID Deputy Project Manager Walt Winder.
In other TCID news —
TCID announced the dates of the annual water users meetings.
The first will be at 6 p.m. March 24 in Fallon at the Churchill County chambers room, 155 N. Taylor St. The second will be at 6 p.m. March 27 in Fernley at the city complex, 595 Silver Lace Blvd.
President Schank and Directors Olsen, Lester de Braga and Wade Workman have all filed for re-election. Each is running unopposed and no election will take place this year.