Drought is a big concern for farmers

The boat ramp at the Lahontan Reservoir sits yards away from the shoreline.

The boat ramp at the Lahontan Reservoir sits yards away from the shoreline.

Fallon farmers will get just a fifth of their usual amount of water to irrigate crops this coming season.

The Truckee-Carson Irrigation District Board of Directors met last week and determined the annual allocation would be 20 percent.

That means farmers will likely receive enough water for just 1.5 irrigations and the season will end by mid-June, first of July at the latest, when the water runs out.

The 2015 allocation is the lowest ever, going lower than the previous record of 28 percent in 1994.

“The (recent) rain didn’t do a damn thing. I don’t know if the grasses are alive. Alfalfa is breaking dormancy now,” said Dave Matley, a Fallon farmer, during public comment at the meeting. “You can do us a favor by doing it early and recognizing we’ll run out earlier. The grass might be dead by April 1.”

Two other users from Fernley, Arlene Johnson and Lowell Patton, spoke and agreed they would want the option to take their water as early as possible.

The board decided to let users start ordering water March 15, but some deliveries would not begin until April 1 and after 1,000 acre-feet of water had been ordered.

Part of the concern for TCID is efficiency.

The dry conditions means more water will be lost during initial delivery, when the system is started up and the ground is dry.

“If we turn it on and off it will hurt us. As you charge the system and empty it and refill it, it just aggravates the losses,” said Walt Winder, deputy district manager of TCID. “It would take our efficiencies of high 40s to low 50s percent and put them through the floor.” Winder said TCID efficiencies were 56.4 percent 2014, 64.9 percent in 2013 and 58.5 percent in 2012.

Another concern was protecting the fish at Lahontan Reservoir. Kris Urquhart with the Nevada Department of Wildlife told the board it would be best if the reservoir was at 10,000-acre feet at the end of June, assuming that would drop to 4,000-acre feet by the fall, in order to ensure the fish survive. Less than that, he said, would reduce their chances of survival. The board opted to set a 4,000-acre-feet limit on Lahontan Reservoir. The board is holding water users meetings on March 24 and 26, in Fernley and Fallon.


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