One of the worst water seasons is finally over.
Late Tuesday night, the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District closed the Truckee Canal irrigation system, according to Project Manager Rusty Jardine.
He said the district hit its minimum pool requirement of 15,000-acre feet. In another blow, Jardine said the level of the Truckee rivershed is too low to siphon off any additional water to replace losses suffered at Lahontan Reservoir due to evaporation and seepage.
“We have attained the minimum pool in Lahontan and effectively our water supply has been exhausted for purpose of our irrigators,” Jardine said. “We have to have a good season next year. We hope Mother Nature will be kind to us in that connection.”
Despite the closure of the system, Jardine said TCID will resume deliveries for wildlife entities in about one month. TCID and those entities such as the Stillwater Wildlife Refuge agreed to hold deliveries until after the season to assist TCID in delivering water to farmers and agriculture use.
“The wildlife users will be receiving some of that supply that remains in the minimum pool,” Jardine added.
The silver lining for TCID, though, is it allows the district to engage in maintenance projects throughout the project.
Jardine said the district will tackle several planned renovations and upgrades including work on the V- and A-line canals.
The V-line project consists of replacing the Lewis spillway and adding a hydroelectric generator to the structure, the fourth electrical generator in the system. The Lewis spillway is down from 26-foot Drop.
“We will dig back into that embankment and provide for this new Lewis wasteway structure,” Jardine said. “And behind that will be the low-head hydro that will generate a little bit of electricity.”
On the A-line, Jardine said a fifth hydroelectric turbine will be added to Panicker Drop.
The district will also continue its efforts to automate its structures throughout the project including Lahontan Dam. Automation will allow TCID to control flows from computers at its headquarters on Harrigan Road.
In addition, Jardine said metering will be done in Fernley along the canal.
“With a short operational span with the water season, we can now be shifting into the mode of maintenance,” he said. “We will prioritize what we can to improve better efficiencies for next year.”
As the drought continues, Jardine said the district has been diligent with deliveries and how serve users. For example, TCID avoids charging one section of the system to deliver, then stop and deliver in another lateral with minimal water.
Unfortunately for the district, there is little they can do to reassure their users. The largest source irrigation water comes from snowpack in the Sierra Mountains and whatever precipitation falls in the valley typically does little.
“We are so dependent on our snowpack,” Jardine added. “We look upstream constantly to see what is happening up there. We have to have a strong snowpack or conditions will continue to worsen for us.”