Drought conditions call for drastic actions | NevadaAppeal.com

Drought conditions call for drastic actions

Troy Wilde
NEVADA NEWS SERVICE
How ro reuse and conserve water focuses on the "Hardest Working Rivers" such as the Colorado River near Laughlin.
STEVE RANSON / SRANSON@LAHONTANVALLEYNEWS.COM |

Reno Water Authority calls for conservation

The severity of Nevada’s ongoing drought has prompted the Truckee Meadows Water Authority to call upon its thousands of customers in Reno, Sparks and Washoe counties to conserve water.

Mark Foree, general manager of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, said the lack of water has forced his agency to tap its emergency “drought reserves” water supply for the first time in 20 years.

“We’re really focusing on outdoor irrigation, and the reason is during this time of year three times more water is used outdoors than indoors,” said Foree.

Foree added the water authority is requesting “voluntary” water conservation since its customers have a history of complying with previous water saving efforts during periods of drought.

“This community has always pitched in when we’ve asked,” said Foree. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had to ask, but 20 years ago when we asked for conservation, we got the conservation we were looking for.”

Foree said about 90 percent of the Reno-Sparks water supply comes from Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River system. He hopes a heavy snowfall this winter will help restore water levels, but if not, he warns water conservation efforts will likely intensify.

Hardest Working River

Reuse and conserve are the two big points in a new study about how to stretch the water in the Colorado River to meet the needs of Nevadans and others who depend on the river.

Matt Rice is director of the Colorado Basin Program with the environmental advocacy group Americans Rivers. It issued the report, “The Hardest Working River in the West: Common-Sense Solutions for a Reliable Water Future for the Colorado River Basin.”

“We’re walking on the edge,” Rice stressed. “We’re on the verge of a potential crisis.”

Rice said the Hardest Working River plan would save 3.8 million-acre feet of water, which is the projected long-term water deficit if the drought continues.

Recommendations are many, and include landscaping techniques, rebate programs to encourage water-saving devices, updating agriculture irrigation systems, treating gray water so it’s potable — or can be used for agriculture and industry — and capturing rainwater.

Rice added that everyone can all pitch in by using less water in daily life.

“People in Nevada can help save water by installing more efficient faucets and toilets, and switching to a desert landscape which requires far less water,” he stressed. “We can all do our part to ensure that we have enough water for the future.”

Rice added the last decade of severe drought has left Colorado River levels at the two main storage reservoirs, Lake Mead in Nevada and Lake Powell in Utah, at historically low levels.