City's water outlook better than last year

Heat is the nemesis to those monitoring Carson City's water situation.

So Carson City Utility Operations Manager Tom Hoffert has enjoyed every second of the recent cold and rainy spell to hit Northern Nevada.

The longer snow stays in the Sierra, the better, he said. April heat waves last year caused Sierra snowpack to melt early and pass through the Lake Tahoe and Carson River water systems too early to help farmers who depended on the water and officials who count on the water to help them through the dry summer months.

Although officials are expecting a dry year, the water outlook for Carson City is twice as good as it was at this time last year, Hoffert said.

Snow in the Lake Tahoe basin is measuring about 93 percent of normal and has more than twice as much water in it than last year's snow, Hoffert said. For every 10 gallons of water produced by the snow last year, water users can expect around 24 gallons this year. Last year around this time, the basin was at 39 percent of average.

Snow in the Carson River basin is around 87 percent of average, a better outlook than the 48 percent of average snow water content last year.

"I'm much more comfortable with this," Hoffert said.

Last year, the utilities' department was faced with such low flows from Kings and Ash Canyon creeks they had to start using well water earlier in the year. That equated to a lower ground water table through the summer and higher energy costs to operate wells. This year, surface water is still adequate to meet most community needs, Hoffert said.

The utilities department has increased the city's ability to produce water in the hot summer months to 23.5 million gallons of water daily, and is expecting peak demands to top 24.5 million gallons daily. The department meets that demand by storing water as well as with the help of two extra wells, which will bring to 27 in July the number of wells the city has in operation.

Hoffert is already asking Carson City residents to keep water conservation on their minds. Watering restrictions begin June 1, but May 5-11 is National Drinking Water Week, and Carson City is celebrating under the theme "Every drop counts. Be Water Smart."

Utility personnel will be preaching water conservation in community classrooms and will host a community event at Mills Park on May 11.


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