Carson River low, but not in drought

The Carson River may be down to mud in some parts of its bed this year, but that's not uncommon for the heavily used river.

All of the water in the river running from Alpine County, Calif., east to Churchill County has been claimed through water rights, almost all of it going to agriculture.

The biggest users are Churchill and Douglas counties.

The water level is below normal this year, but it is not a drought like last year.

Buying water rights to keep the water running wouldn't be a solution, said Ed James, manager of the Carson Water Subconservancy District. Water rights given up by one user typically go to the user next in line for the rights. A water rights owner could dedicate the water to the river, but this could damage habitats of animals living near where the water had been, he said.

Not many fish live in the river, James said, but those that are there often find ponds or puddles to live in when the river is low.

Before people started using the water, it would still run low in the summer.

The river, with water coming from melted snow in the Sierra Nevada, is highest in spring.

Carson City, Lyon County and the state are working on a 14-mile rafting route, the Carson City Aquatic Trail, that will run from the Silver Saddle Ranch in Carson to the Santa Maria Ranch in Dayton. It would only operate for two months out of the year.


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