Carson City water summit to look at usage, law changes

The Carson River as it passes along the banks of Golden Eagle Lane on Jan . 11, 2017.

The Carson River as it passes along the banks of Golden Eagle Lane on Jan . 11, 2017.

This week’s wet weather that pelted Northern Nevada might give participants something to talk about at the 2018 Water Summit later this month in Carson City.

Hosted by the Carson Water Subconservancy and the Carson River Coalition, the summit offers an overview of the Carson River. To plan for the future, the 2018 Water Summit is set for Jan. 30 from 8 a.m.-noon in the Nevada Room at the Governor’s Mansion.

The summit will focus on infrastructure needs, water use, potential water law changes, limited water supply east of Dayton, the need for more induction wells, water quality concern and a need for upstream storage

The river’s watershed occupies about 3,970 square miles.

Subconservancy General Manager Ed James said the river’s 184-mile long drainage is home to about 125,000 people, a number that could increase to 400,000 by 2050.

“We have to be aware of what goes on in the Truckee River basin, because it could have an impact on us,” James has informed government agencies when he has met separately with them.

While 2017 saw a record amount of precipitation, there wasn’t as much flooding as in prior years because of the previous dry period, James said.

“The flow was half of what we saw in 1997,” he said. “It was not a huge flood event on the Carson. It was between a 20-25 year flood event. We will experience larger floods in the future.”

The Carson River is administered by the Alpine Decree, which means the river is fully appropriated. According to James, 95 percent of that use is for agriculture, with floodwaters going to the Stillwater Project near Fallon.

Because there’s no storage upstream, the area relies on snowpack to store water for irrigation. Most of the water is stored at Lahontan Reservoir.

Groundwater in the Carson River watershed is overappropriated, but it’s not being overpumped, he said.

“Groundwater levels increased during 2017,” he said. “When you put more water on the ground, the groundwater goes up. We did recover. It’s a good indicator we’re not mining our water.”


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