FALLON " The falling water level at a popular northern Nevada resorvoir has prompted a recommendation to boaters not to use it.
A lack of rain and a Jan. 5 irrigation canal collapse could leave the water level of Lahontan Reservoir west of Fallon near a historic low by the end of the summer, said David Morrow, administrator of the Nevada Division of State Parks.
The reservoir's level is lowering about 6 inches a day, allowing stumps and other obstacles to emerge.
"I think the conditions are getting very, very poor, and I think it would be difficult to put anything in the reservoir that was of any size," Morrow said.
The reservoir, fed by the Carson and Truckee rivers, is taking a double hit because of reduced flows in a 31-mile earthen canal that sends water from the Truckee to the reservoir.
The canal broke and flooded nearly 600 homes in Fernley in January, and was only allowed to reopen at reduced flows after repairs.
"I think there's no question that without being able to put the water they normally get from the (Truckee) canal, that made the situation worse," Morrow said. "But it's also very dry in the Carson River."
Lahontan can hold about 320,000 acre-feet of water, and the Nevada Department of Wildlife said the reservoir could drop to 13,000 to 14,000 acre-feet later this year.
Missy Swain, owner of Burke's Market near the reservoir's entrance, blamed the lower water levels for an 80 percent drop in business volume.
"That canal blowing out in Fernley, that impacted all of us down here," Swain said. "I'm sorry for a lot of folks in Fernley.
"But it's like a chain reaction. It's not just them. We're affected. Fallon farmers are also affected," she added.
The reservoir should hold enough water this year to protect its fishery, said Chris Healy, spokesman for the state wildlife department.
Most of the species in Lahontan are warm-water fish better able to survive low water levels, he said.
Dan Hannum of Dayton, who caught a state record 25-pound, 6-ounce wiper bass last year, said the fishing at Lahontan is not as good as in the past.
"I'm not getting the fish I used to get," he said. "I think the fish are still there but they're all stressed out. If you're fishing a point this week, that point is out of the water next week."