Gov. Brian Sandoval creates Nevada drought forum
Governor Sandoval creates Nevada drought forum
WASHOE VALLEY — Standing amid the tufts of grass poking through the sandy bottom of what used to be Washoe Lake, Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday announced the creation of the Nevada Drought Forum.
He said the forum created by executive order would bring together public and private sectors, scientists and other experts to plan for how the state can deal with the deepening drought that has already drawn both Lake Mead and Lake Tahoe down to near historic lows.
He said he chose the setting because, the spot he was standing, once beneath three feet or more of water, was now a half mile from the puddle that was left of Washoe Lake.
“It’s very stark for those of us who grew up here,” Sandoval said.
He said the Western Drought Forum he convened as a member of the Western Governor’s Association last year would meet at Lake Tahoe in June to release its final report and the state’s project “will build off of that work.”
While Sandoval praised the efforts of California Gov. Jerry Brown to rein in water use in that state, he emphasized that Nevada “is not California.”
“I feel like we are way ahead of them,” he said. “What California is doing, we have been doing for years.”
John Entsminger, manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said that area has been adapting and conserving for years and now uses 40 percent less waster than it did 15 years ago even though the population is 25 percent larger.
He said he sees its program “as the poster child for the rest of the nation.”
Mark Foree, manager of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, said they too have been working on conservation measures in the midst of a now four-year drought.
“We plan for these things because we live in a desert,” he said.
“We’ve been here before and worse.”
Leo Drozdoff, head of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said there have been significant declines in groundwater in basins throughout Nevada and, if unchecked, is going to make those basis unsustainable.
Sandoval said water levels are seriously depleted at area reservoirs as well including Lake Lahontan.
He said the department and its divisions will be looking at all types of alternatives to conserve and get the state through the drought.
Sandoval too said Nevada is in better shape than many places to deal with the drought since it’s the nation’s driest state.
But asked about California’s mandate to cut water use, he said water law in Nevada is different than in California.
For state agencies, he said he will order an audit of state agency water use and have experts look for ways to conserve.
His public information officer Mari St. Martin said that includes looking for conservation opportunities at the governor’s mansion.
Sandoval said efforts to develop a plan will start immediately and plans will be developed hopefully by year’s end.