Scene in Passing: Carson City’s conundrum: Force of nature

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You can’t step in the same river twice, according to my late father and Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher who was the font of that pithy wisdom.

Like many a writer and editor, Dad was cutting the Greek thinker’s aphorism into tighter quarters to thrust his own point home with panache. But the point remains similar even in the Greek’s slightly longer version:

“No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”

Perhaps the renaissance artist and genius Leonardo da Vinci, however, clarified the point for me as much as any commentator since my dad tried to influence me by using his short admonition.

“In rivers,” said Leonardo, “the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”

Now let’s cut to the chase.

Late in last Thursday’s Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting there was discussion of the community’s weird waterworld. Present realities are that Carson City and environs are in a drought, treated wastewater effluent has been and again this summer will be in short supply to use for watering golf courses, yet when drought disappears land is needed for effluent if it increases significantly.

Utilities Manager David Bruketta, who runs the treatment plant, has requested by letter that local golf courses and users cut back because a July date could materialize for running out of effluent. He seeks a 25 percent cutback to conserve and so stretch effluent application as long as feasible. Mayor Robert Crowell and Supervisor Brad Bonkowski said Eagle Valley, the leased municipal course, could live with that, but private courses seemed less certain.

Uncomfortable options include yellow golf course fairways or use of potable water, which is similar to the plight faced last summer in August. The July concern this year ups the ante.

“We’re predicting a shortage of around 1,000 acre-feet,” Bruketta said Friday, which is about 326 million gallons. He also said it appears likely shortages will continue, but acknowledged should the flip side develop post-drought, the need to water prison farms and golf courses would mushroom and the opposite problem could face city government.

“That was part of the discussion yesterday,” he said of the too-little/too-much conundrum. “We face that fine balance.”

This and offshoot problems stem from 1970s federal restrictions barring sewage or even this treated wastewater effluent from going into the Carson River. Hence, a host of dilemmas and occasional disputes.

As a Western folk saying goes, whiskey is for drinkin’ and water is for fightin’. As Leonardo put it in a larger context: “Water is the driving force of all nature.”


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