By BURKE WASSON
Nevada Appeal News Service
After experts predicted Lahontan Reservoir's storage would surpass its capacity by July, the lake began an unexpected trend in late June - its storage started dropping.
Although the lake is still noticeably fuller than in average years and continues to flood beach areas, the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District reports that water storage has steadily decreased each day since June 22. The reservoir peaked at 274,956 acre-feet on that day.
Officials had estimated that by the end of June, the lake would reach 312,200 acre-feet - well over its capacity of 289,721 acre-feet with washboards.
TCID officials reported last week's storage was at 267,529 acre-feet, which still puts the lake at more than 100,000 acre-feet fuller than it was a year ago. On July 7, 2004, Lahontan Reservoir was at 167,506 acre-feet.
According to TCID engineer Dave Overvold, the lake was also at an elevation of 4,160.20 feet. With washboards put in place at the lake by TCID, the lake's capacity to the top of those washboards is 4,162 feet.
But with a steady decrease in the water levels expected to continue, Overvold said the lake should not be in danger of flowing over the washboards.
"The inflow continues to drop off and the inflow at Fort Churchill is still less than what we're releasing," Overvold said. "So there's more demand than what's coming in. It's very unlikely that it will rise. We expect to be down around 245,000 acre-feet by the end of the month."
Beaches at the lake were still noticeably covered by the added water.
"You can't drive down the shore line," said Lake Lahontan park technician ranger Jim Sizemore. "And it'll be quite a while because once the water does go down to where you can drive it, there's a lot of clay.
"That's where people have had a lot of their problems is driving in and getting stuck in the clay. From Beach 2 to Beach 10, you can't really drive down any of them."
Beaches 7 and 9, which lie on the Silver Springs side of Lahontan Reservoir, have been the most affected by the flooding. Campsites in that area have become flooded and have forced people to go to other beaches.
But with extra caution in mind, Sizemore said he still wants people to use the reservoir for its purpose - to have fun.
"Just watch where you're driving," Sizemore said. "There's some areas out there that are either deep sand or deep clay. But other than that, come on out and have a good time this summer."
n Contact reporter Burke Wasson at firstname.lastname@example.org.