Commissioners support separate water master for Carson River if TROA is approved

YERINGTON -- Lyon County commissioners support creation of a separate Carson River water master if a proposed Truckee River water storage agreement is approved.

In the works since 1990, the Truckee River Operating Agreement is nearing its final version. It will regulate how water will be stored and released in the reservoirs on the upper reaches of the Truckee River.

If approved, an administrative position would be created to also serve as the federal water master. This individual would be selected by the five signatories to the operating agreement: the federal government, Pyramid Tribe, California, Nevada and Sierra Pacific Power Co..

Apprehensive about possible conflicts with having a federal water master selected by Truckee River interests also overseeing the Carson River water shed, the Carson Water Subconservancy District several years ago had language included in the operating agreement to allow for separate federal water masters if desired.

Subconservancy District General Manager Ed James said the federal water master is supposed to be a neutral body hired to see that water users get their legally decreed water, but expressed concern an individual hired by Truckee River interests could shortchange Carson River interests.

"There is a lot of leeway, judgment calls, the water master has. We know the Pyramid Tribe and others have a real goal in getting as much water from the Carson into Lahontan as they can because that means less water is needed from the Truckee," he told the commissioners. "The concern is there could be some new policies if you have an administrator -- federal water master -- whose goal is to see as much water as possible get to Pyramid Lake. It is important we take a look at this."

James said a separate water master would cost users approximately 50 percent more than they currently pay, but most have expressed support for the move.

"Most say 'It may cost me more, but at least I have water. If I have someone who's not interested in what happens on the Carson I may lose my livelihood.'"

Carson City supervisors also received an update on the proposal Thursday, and expressed support for a separate water master for the Carson River. However, James noted it could be from three to 10 years before the operating agreement is final and before the Truckee and Carson rivers need different water masters.

Groups already indicating support of the proposal include the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, Lahontan Conservation District, Carson Valley Irrigation District, Dayton Valley Conservation District and Carson Valley Conservation District.

James was scheduled to also appear before Carson City, Douglas County and Churchill County lawmakers.

Commissioners agreed to send a letter to the federal court and the subconservancy district expressing support.


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