The drought continues… start saving water now

April 8, 2015

Drought conditions in Reno, Nevada
Don’t let the recent rain and snow fool you. It’s still mighty dry and year four of the ongoing drought is turning out to be the worst yet. The snowpack survey at the end of the season on April 1 measured possibly the bleakest conditions ever recorded. According to snow surveyor Jeff Anderson of the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, “It’s pretty bad, the worst in a century. Almost all of the snow measuring sites at Tahoe have melted out already.” Here are the numbers for 2015, expressed in percentage of average snowpack. They have declined every year since 2012 and these are by far the lowest…

  • Lake Tahoe Basin – 3 percent
  • Truckee River Basin – 14 percent
  • Carson River Basin – 5 percent
  • Walker River Basin – 21 percent

Runoff in the Truckee River and other area streams will be minimal this spring due to the low snowpack and ever higher average temperatures. Keeping the Truckee flowing through the summer is going to be tough due to low water in upstream lakes and reservoirs. Because Lake Tahoe has been below its natural rim since last October, no water from that source has entered the Truckee River since then. Water we see in Reno is coming from spring runoff and storage reservoirs. How long this will last remains to be seen.

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) is asking customers to immediately reduce water use by at least 10 percent, both indoors and outdoors. TMWA has reserves for up to nine years of drought conditions, but the time to start conserving is now, before things get desperate. To help you understand how this situation is affecting Reno area residents, refer to TMWA’s “Frequently Asked Questions: Drought and Water Supply for 2015.”

An excellent source for information and news about the drought is the “Living With Drought” website from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Here you will find helpful information and resources for dealing with topics such as lawns and gardens, livestock, recreation, wildfire, crops, community planning, and more.

Sources: Reno Gazette-Journal, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, National Weather Service.

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