Whenever someone in state government says "regional water," local officials sometimes want to hide their taps.
Though it only has jurisdiction over matters involving the Truckee River, a state committee spent Monday morning quizzing stakeholders along the Carson River watershed about water resources and master plans. But Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, said it wasn't about taking anyone's water.
Amodei, chairman of the Legislative Committee to oversee the Regional Water Commission, invited representatives from Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, Storey, Churchill and Washoe counties to discuss those counties' water resources and whether those resources were in synch with their master plans.
He said the meeting was informational, to see what officials in other regions think and what they believe their water situations to be.
Most officials said their master plans were designed with the current water resources in mind, and others, like Lyon and Storey, were in process or planning to update master plans to include water considerations.
Lyon County Manager Dennis Stark said as far as he knew the committee was looking for examples of regional cooperation on water issues.
"That's the only thing I can think of," he said. "They just want examples of what other entities are doing."
Stark, Utilities Director Mike Workman, and Commissioner Bob Milz talked about the county's cooperative agreement with Carson City to interconnect the two systems.
Carson City Manager Larry Werner told the committee that Carson City had enough water rights allocated for total buildout, and unlike other counties, didn't require developers to bring water rights to the table.
Storey County Commissioner Greg "Bum" Hess said Storey officials would protect the county's right to the Marlette Lake-Hobart system, granted to the county by the Franktown Decree. The decree was a court order made in the 1960s that recognized the historic use of the water and granted access to Virginia City, Silver City, Gold Hill and Carson City.
"Marlette Lake is very precious to Virginia City and Storey County and we're going to do what we can to protect it," he said. "I think people are just trying to get a regional game plan together and make it so counties can help other counties rather than have two counties go different ways to obtain water. If they both go one way, that may solve their problems."
Ed James of the Carson Water Subconservancy District said his role was to foster cooperation among the 11 water purveyors on the Carson River and help pay for infrastructure, including upsizing pipelines for interlocal connections between Carson City and Lyon County, Douglas County and Minden, Carson City and Douglas County and Minden and Gardnerville.
He told the committee that both the Carson River and the region's groundwater were fully allocated, and 95 percent of the river water was used for agriculture. During a wet year the Carson River can fill up the Lahontan Reservoir, but dry years are another story, he said.
"Even in good years we tend to go dry. We can flood in January and go dry in July."
Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, said the committee is trying to get an assessment and overall view of the region as a whole.
"The fact is we have three major arteries, the Carson, Walker and Truckee, and seven counties in the region that use those tributaries as well as the groundwater," he said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 881-7351.