Water conservation and cooperation | NevadaAppeal.com

Water conservation and cooperation

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Maybe it’ll snow all winter. Odds are, though, that Carson City and the rest of Northern Nevada will be in the same dry state next summer.

That’s why Carson City supervisors’ move toward water-conservation efforts by changing the lawn-irrigation schedule is a wise bit of foresight.

We agree that Carson’s problem isn’t lack of supply. The city has strong and ample rights, and it has for years taken a sensible approach to growth by limiting new residential construction to 3 percent annually, a limit seldom tested.

But water rights on paper don’t quench a thirsty town when the water’s not actually in the ground. A lowered aquifer, the result of a half-dozen years of drought, has made it so much tougher to meet peak demands and to replenish water tanks when use is low.

As we’ve noted before, Carson City residents like their lush lawns and haven’t exactly been prone to conservation. Water usage has been increasing faster than the population.

Under a new schedule, voluntary now and likely to be imposed for next summer, the water system will get a break every Monday. More improvements can be made in the delivery system, and city government can continue to work with large water users to do more irrigating with untreated water.

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But no matter how many paper rights the city owns or how many pumps and pipes it builds, there’s not much to be done if the water doesn’t exist.

Carson City isn’t alone in its dry state, to be sure. It becomes glaringly apparent in times of drought how important it is for Carson, Douglas and Lyon county governments, as well as Indian Hills, to work together on development planning and the future allocation of water resources.

If you think the debate has been bitter over sales-tax dollars, just wait until people start fighting over water. We got just a taste of the potential acrimony when Douglas bought some Lompa Ranch rights.

Proper, sustained and healthy growth relies on an adequate water supply – for residents who live here, and those who haven’t yet arrived.