Carson City water supply good, but wait ‘til next year

The Carson River shown here off of Deer Run Rd. on Wednesday.

The Carson River shown here off of Deer Run Rd. on Wednesday.

Carson City’s water supply looks sound considering Nevada is in the grips of a drought, city water officials said Wednesday.

Whether that relatively upbeat assessment remains intact next year, however, is another matter. Continuation of the drought and other factors could make things dicey for 2015, according to Darren Schulz, he city’s public works director.

“We feel pretty good for this current year,” said Schulz. He put next summer’s city posture in a different light should the drought and continuing downward pressure on effluent wastewater supply make 2015 into a tighter water supply year overall. “We’ll have to be a lot more serious,” he said, projecting possible upgrades of curbs regarding usage then. He said it could impact both when and how much H2O residents can tap,

Schulz said part of the reason the city is faring relatively well is peak demand is less intense now, despite or in response to the long-term drought, compared with a few years ago. He said the peak now is 22 million gallons per day on occasion, and the average day runs 18- to 19- million gallons in Carson City. He said the drop he cited is 10 percent or 15 percent from demand four or five years ago.

By way of contrast, Schulz said, winter water usage runs about 6- or 8- million gallons per day.

Summer water restrictions are still in force by ordinance, running from June 1 until Sept. 30, and allow lawn watering three days per week with none on Mondays. Residents with odd numbered addresses water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; those with even numbers water on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. No watering is allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Nearby water officials say the severity of Nevada’s ongoing drought has forced use of emergency reserves. Mark Foree, Truckee Meadows Water Authority general manager, said tapping those reserves for the first time in two decades prompted a request his authority’s 94,000 customers reduce outdoor irrigation by at least 10 percent.

In Carson City, current and next year’s conditions are complicated a bit by the fact effluent water from the wastewater treatment plant is in short supply due to lower sewage flow. Consequently, supply for golf courses and prison farms must be supplemented at this time of year with domestic water, which is drinkable. Effluent isn’t drinking water, can’t go into the Carson River by federal mandate, and so goes to golf courses and prison farms.

“We are supplementing with domestic water,” said David Bruketta, city utilities manager. “Nothing has gone to brown.” That is per instructions from the Board of Supervisors, but it plays into the picture for 2015 if effluent water supply remains short while there is additional need for or less supply of domestic water for drinking, in-home use and outside watering.

Bruketta said this summer the supplement total has been running about a million gallons per day, which isn’t a huge amount if you consider the big pictures as log as overall supplies don’t grow too tight. He also said decisions are likely regarding what to do next year should the drought continue and overall supply is pressured more.

Ed James, general manager of the Carson Water Subconservancy District, said his district works with communities such as Carson City and others in the watershed he monitors and planning has gone well. That in part is why they are holding up regarding water supply in the third year of a drought, he added. He said the Carson River flow is low and that’s squeezing agricultural interests, but cities and industries do have supply. “We have done a pretty good job of planning,” he said, but added the area must remain vigilant to deal with continuing drought or later return of additional dry spells. “We can meet new growth, but you want to make sure you plan for it.”


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