The V-line canal is one of many waterways constructed for the Newlands Project
Water has been a lifeline to the Lahontan Valley since construction of the Newlands Project began more than a century ago.
Construction commenced in 1903 on a project that would cover land in a four-county area and, according to the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, provide water for 57,000 acres of irrigated land in Churchill County near Fallon and the bench lands near Fernley in Lyon County. The two other affected counties are Washoe and Storey.
Two divisions — the Carson and Truckee — ensure water from two basins eventually flows into the Lahontan Reservoir. The Newlands Project called for a number of dams and 700 miles of canals, lateral and open drains to move the water.
The importance of the Newlands Project to the Lahontan Valley is the subject of this fall’s lecture series presented by the Churchill County Museum. All presentations are free and open to the public and will be on Tuesdays beginning at 6 p.m. Teachers may receive professional development hours.
The first of seven weekly presentations begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. with Leanna Hall discussing the evolution of tribal farmers and the Newlands Project. Hall is the Land and Water manager for the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe.
• Sept. 21: Ernie Schank, former president of the TCID Board of Directors and a longtime Lahontan Valley farmer, will give a slide presentation on the project’s history and specifically the beginning from 1903 to 1905.
• Sept. 28: Rusty Jardine, TCID’s general manager and legal counsel, will present “Water Law in the West: Is water more precious than gold?” Jardine’s talk focuses on water rights and how they affect users.
• Oct. 5: Scott Schoenfeld of the Bureau of Reclamation and Daniel Kaler of Farmers Conservation Alliance discuss “Derby Dam: New and Improved Fish Screens.”
They will give an overview of the construction of the screens and how they will restore the watershed and support the endangered fish movement along the Truckee River.
• Oct 12: Darcy Phillips, executive director of the River Wranglers, has given previous presentations in Churchill County. Her discussion is “In and Out of the Classroom: Learning About the Carson River Watershed.” Phillips will present information on the watershed, pollution, water quality and water conservation.
Also speaking Oct. 12 is Brenda Hunt, manager of the Watershed Program for the Carson Water Subconservancy District. Hunt’s topic is “Watershed Literacy in Action: I am Carson Watershed.”
The gist of her information centers on the integrated planning for the watershed and the watershed literacy campaign process.
• Oct. 19: The final presenter is Carl Lunderstadt, project leader of the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Water for Stillwater: An Oasis in the Desert” examines how the Newlands Project affects the refuge, which is northeast of Fallon.