USGS recommends storing water underground near Pine Nut Creek. |

USGS recommends storing water underground near Pine Nut Creek.

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

A study by the U.S. Geological Survey says an underground aquifer could be used to store water for drought periods along the east side of the Carson Valley.

The report was authored by Doug Maurer of the federal agency. It says as much as 3,500 acre-feet of water could be stored underground near Pine Nut Creek, then pumped for municipal use when needed.

He said since there are no large reservoirs upstream from the Carson Valley, city and county agencies which hold water rights on the Carson River have no place to store the water.

“Storing water underground during times of plentiful stream flow would allow for it to be pumped and recovered for use during times of drought,” the report says.

The Pine Creek model was developed to see if constructing and operating such a project is feasible not only in Carson Valley but all along the Carson River.

“Valleys along the Carson River all have alluvial fans composed of sand and gravel deposited by streams tributary to the Carson River,” said Maurer. “These fans have good potential for rapid infiltration of stream flow to the water table.”

But once underground, he said the water moves slowly through the aquifer, which means most of it could be pumped back out when needed.

Maurer’s report says the model shows that, by recharging 700 acre-feet a year for five years, the Pine Nut Creek water table would rise nearly to the land’s surface. The report says 90 percent of the recharge could be pumped back out to municipal uses.