2018 Nevada water summit to cover Carson River watershed

The swollen Carson River at the Cradlebaugh Bridge in January 2017.

The swollen Carson River at the Cradlebaugh Bridge in January 2017.

Carson River stakeholders are meeting this week to talk about issues affecting the watershed.

The 2018 Water Summit will take a look at state water law, climate impacts, early runoff, and snow-level rise with speakers from the U.S. Geological Service, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and Desert Research Institute as well as Jason King, state engineer.

The event is being hosted by the Carson Water Subconservancy District in the Nevada Room at the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday.

“I’m interested in runoff projections, river information. I always want to stay abreast of that,” said Curtis Horton, operations chief, Carson City Public Works department. “If we get runoff outside the irrigation season there is only so much of it we can store.”

Public Works is in the middle of a study on its water production supply capabilities and storage is one of many aspects the department is looking at.

“We currently have ample storage to meet demand,” said Horton.

There are 16 water tanks around the city where finished, or treated, water can be stored, and more storage might not serve a purpose.

“It’s a delicate balance. Water age is an issue, you want to turn water over so you want to store only enough,” said Horton.

Raw water storage, too, isn’t an issue, he said, and would likely be an easy fix if there’s future demand.

“It might mean something as simple as adding an additional reservoir at Quill,” the city’s water treatment plant, which now has two reservoirs that can hold up to 1.5 million gallons of water.

The supply study is still ongoing, but Horton said the department already knows it needs to ramp up rehab of the city’s existing wells.

There are 33 wells in Carson City and the more those wells are repaired and maintained, the longer the city can go before drilling new wells, said Horton.

The city is also looking to future growth and how best to optimize both surface and groundwater.

“We could maximize surface water by increasing or changing the treatment instead of turning it out when it’s too turbid,” said Horton.

When water flows increase from Ash Canyon and Kings Canyon creeks, the amount of organic matter increases, too, some of which the Quill plant can’t treat.

The water goes into infiltration basins to recharge the groundwater, but if additional treatment functionality was added to the plant, that water could be treated for immediate use.

Horton said a change in federal regulations could necessitate upgrading the plant as could population growth.

But the city, he said, would look to groundwater and the most economical and responsible solution.

“We always want to be good stewards of these resources,” he said. “We have a responsibility.”

So far, the city has been, according to Ed James, the water subconservancy’s general manager.

Last summer, during a presentation on the watershed, James told the Board of Supervisors Carson City was the envy of other jurisdictions.

“The good news is Carson City is prepared,” said James.

Horton said the city has some natural advantages.

“Our recharge program is better than other areas. We do it in Vicee Canyon and based on the topography we’re able to accomplish it pretty easily,” he said.

And there are other, natural infiltration basins along the western slope.

The city also has ample water rights, he said.

“We own quite a bit of Eagle Valley water rights and we always watch for what’s going on,” in the market for rights, said Horton.

He attributes the city’s successful strategy to Dorothy Timian-Palmer, who worked as the city’s water engineer starting in 1988 and eventually served as Public Works director. She’s now president and CEO of Vidler Water Co., a private company that develops water resources in the West.

“She started us on the right track,” said Horton.

For information on the 2018 Water Summit, contact Toni Leffler with the Carson Water Subconservancy District at 775-887-7450 or toni@cwsd.org.


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