Water hearings for Smith, Mason valleys set
Gardnerville, Nev. — A meeting of the Nevada Drought Forum will be simulcast in Gardnerville 9 a.m. Aug. 19.
Much of Western Nevada, including Douglas County is in exceptional drought after a fourth dry winter in a row.
That’s despite the fifth wettest July and the ninth wettest June since records started being taken in Minden in 1906.
According to the National Weather Service, 1.14 inches of rain fell during the month, bringing the total for the year to 7.2 inches. That brings Minden up to 87 percent of average for the water year, which ends Sept. 30. June saw 1.28 inches of rain fell, more than fell during January, March and April combined.
The average rainfall in Minden is 8.89 inches.
The drought forum simulcast will take place at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 1329 Waterloo Lane
Workshops in Smith and Mason valleys have been scheduled this month to discuss water issues including potential water cuts to residents because of the drought.
The Smith Valley workshop is set for 2 p.m., Aug. 27 at the Smith Valley Community Hall on Highway 208. The Mason Valley workshop will be held Aug. 28, also at 2 p.m., at the Lyon County Fairgrounds, Ray Voshall Building in Yerington.
Farmers in those two areas have already been told they are facing possible curtailment orders next year because of the four-year long drought.
State Engineer Jason King told attendees at a recent meeting there’s little recharge in the aquifer coupled with unprecedented pumping of groundwater.
King and his staff will present 2015 pumping data as well as information on water rights and priorities in the valleys. They will also hold a discussion of alternative curtailment options and the engineer’s preferences if reductions in water use are ordered.
An order mandating a 50 percent reduction in pumping on groundwater rights supplemental to surface rights in the two valleys. A group of farmers appealed the order and District Judge Leon Aberasturi rejected the order saying it wasn’t based on priority of rights.
King said at the time that leaves his office no choice but to basically eliminate junior water rights before ordering any cuts to senior water rights holders. He has been working with Desert Research Institute experts to determine how much those junior rights are going to have to be cut to prevent the water table from dropping more than four feet and present those results at the two workshops.