Despite one of the worst droughts in recent memory, the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District is extending the water season.
The district is able to do so as Floristan rates (water credited to the district) has been flowing from the Truckee River through the Truckee Canal, allowing the TCID Board of Directors to alter the cut-off date to July 28. The date is for the Carson and Truckee divisions.
The board, which met Monday for its monthly meeting, engaged in a lively discussion about its options for the season.
Although it is easier said than done, the board thoroughly weighed the options presented as a result of allowing water users to file orders until July 28. The board had set a previous cut-off date for July 15 earlier this year.
Although July 28 is the cut-off date, water orders could be disallowed earlier if the district reaches a total of 20,000 acre-feet before then. TCID set its minimum pool for Lahontan Reservoir earlier this year at 15,000 acre-feet to protect fish and hold about 9,000 acre-feet of water for wildlife entities.
Water releases from Lahontan Reservoir were at 1,000 acre-feet as of Monday with a storage rate of more than 35,000 acre-feet, which, in theory, would give the district an additional 20 days to deliver water at the current output. The board, though, agreed releases are likely to decrease in the coming weeks allowing the district to deliver water without taking a huge hit to its efficiency.
One of the concerns, however, was the priority. For example, a scenario where an individual placed an order to be delivered in three weeks was first to notify the district would be upstaged by an individual who could take water days later.
TCID Scheduler Kelly Herwick, though, said as long as an order is placed before the 20,000 acre-feet total is met, the person would receive their water. He said the daily orders allows the district to keep a daily and accurate tally of the total water ordered.
“This allows me to plan,” he said. “They would be in the schedule. As long as you are in before the 20,000, you are good to go. The concept is for the water to be accounted for.”
Another issue, according to Treasurer Lester de Braga, is setting a firm date. He cautioned the district as the board set a deadline last year and people rushed to gobble up the remaining water well before the cut-off date.
“If we set a date, it will be like last year when people panicked,” he said.
Herwick said a later date may reduce the panic, while President Ernie Schank said if there is no date, one to two water orders per day late in the season without a cut-off date could not justify keeping the system open due to efficiency.
Schank, though, said setting a timeline allows for the district to shut down in an orderly fashion. In addition, Schank said the district may have to close off specific laterals to ensure a greater efficiency rate when delivering the water.
Despite the concerns, the board urged water users not to panic and to have a plan in place when ordering water.
The Truckee Division, meanwhile, may not last until July 28, according to Vice President David Stix Jr. Nevertheless, Schank said as long as water is in the canal and Fallon residents are being serviced, so will those in the Fernley area.
Schank, though, added it is not a guarantee everyone will receive their water.
“We have to keep the public aware,” he said.
In other TCID news —
Project Manager Rusty Jardine said TCID will opt out of its 50-year contract with Sierra Pacific Power.
Sierra Pacific buys hydroelectric power generated by the district from Lahontan Dam and 26-foot Drop. Jardine said opting out allows the district to search for other consumers for a higher rate.
Another reason, he said, was the final 20 years of the deal would produce reduced income for the district.
First, though, the district must determine when the commercial operation date was signed. Jardine speculated it was in 1989, which means the district would have five more years left on the current deal. He said he expects a reply from Sierra Pacific about their assessment of when the commercial operation deal was sigend.
The original contract, though, was inked in 1987 by Ted de Braga.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Regional Director, David Murillo, will visit the TCID and Lahontan Resvoir on Aug. 5, according to interim Lahontan Basin Area Manager Terry Edwards.