Carson City has plans and hopes for the future of its water system | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City has plans and hopes for the future of its water system

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer

Weather and public works projects have hurt Carson City’s water distribution this summer but city and state crews have plans to make future seasons easier to handle.

The city public works department will talk about water plans and problems at the city board of supervisors meeting Thursday.

Mandatory watering restrictions have been enforced for years, but the two voluntary water cutbacks the city requested this summer are new. The city has pointed to hot temperatures, declining creek flows and the reconstruction of the Marlette Lake water system ” a significant source of water for the city in the summer ” as reasons for the voluntary cutback requests.

Carson City has more than enough water, but the system of pipes and tanks that deliver the water can’t handle all the demand in the summer and is susceptible to problems caused by heat. The city uses more than five times the amount of water on a summer day than it uses on a winter day.

The Marlette Lake water system, which draws from Marlette Lake and Hobart Reservoir in the hills west of Carson City, usually provides the city with about 3 million of the 25 million gallons a day it uses in the summer, said Mike Leahy, state water systems manager.

The state is working on system improvements to be finished next year that will make water available for Carson City in spring rather than summer and will be easier to control, Leahy said, but the construction has also cut down on the amount of water Carson City can get from the system this summer to 1 million gallons a day.

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Other projects such as a pipeline tying the water systems of Carson City and Lyon County together for use in development and emergencies will also help, said Ken Arnold, city public works operations manager. Commissioning a study on efficient water use and building a new pipeline from the east side of the city to the west is also possible.

It is not clear when many improvement projects can be funded, however.

“There’s nothing right now that we can afford to do,” he said.

The city has struggled during the slow economy because it relies heavily on sales tax revenue. It balanced this year’s budget through spending cuts, often by suspending or leaving job positions open. There are currently about 32 city jobs unfilled.

Carson City gets its water from two sources: surface water and groundwater. Surface water comes the Marlette Lake water system as well as from creeks and streams, such as Kings Canyon Creek. Groundwater is pumped from about 35 wells around the city. In the winter, the city depends completely on surface water and, in the summer, it uses about 40 percent surface water and about 60 percent groundwater.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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