Carson signs off on 11 rules for river |

Carson signs off on 11 rules for river

Amanda Hammon

In an attempt to further protect the Carson River, the Carson Water Subconservancy District has been making the presentation circuit through its four member counties, trying to sell 11 rules to live by for the river.

“It’s pretty unique for an entire watershed to buy into a shared vision,” Watershed Coordinator Meg Getty said. “The party is only as good as the people who show up.”

Carson City became the first of the four counties to approve the guiding principles. The rules recognize the importance of the river in Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Churchill counties and will try to set standards by which the counties treat the river.

“This is a wonderful, working document that gets people to say,’ this is what we want for our river,'” Supervisor Robin Williamson said.

Most of the points in the plan are already recognized in one point or another by Carson City’s master plan. For instance one of the principles calls for the protection of open space, an area that Carson City has pioneering experience. Principles also address floodplain and water quality protection, water conservation, working with the river not against it, while recognizing property rights and the fact that there are many different stake holders in the river’s future.

“The thrust of all this is an attempt to protect the resource,” Supervisor Kay Bennett said. “We can’t degrade the resource that essentially feeds and nurtures us.

“The history of rivers is the history of battles. Rarely do you ever see communities along an entire river working together in a cooperative manner to address the future of that river.”

The principles also recognize that protecting the river means protecting the watershed, or all the areas with water feeding the Carson River. Getty pointed out that the district has no regulatory authority, so enforcement or use of the principles is up to each individual community.

“This is a voluntary endorsement,” Getty said. “By essence of it being an integrated plan, it’s all done in the spirit of compromise. The guiding principles are a shared reflection of a number of people. This sets the tone for a united vision for our watershed.”

District General Manager Ed James talked to supervisors about the possibility of Alpine County joining the district. The addition of the small, California county would create cooperation along all 184 miles of the Carson River. Churchill County joined the district last year, and adding the county from where 80 percent of the river’s water originates makes sense as what happens on one part of the river affects other parts, James said.

Supervisors were curious about the amount of federal involvement the move would bring.

James said combining efforts between the states of California and Nevada and the four counties would allow the subconservancy to deal with the federal government on its own level, without becoming a regulatory agency.

James said the district is just seeking comment on the idea for now.