Water system experts from across Nevada gather in Reno | Local News
The state of Nevada is fragmented when it comes to water systems across the state, and stakeholders from different water systems are meeting this week to come together and see the big picture.
The Nevada Water Resource Association (NWRA) is holding its annual conference in Reno this week.
In the headlines, Nevada was one of six Western Basin states to sign a consensus model to reduce water use from the drought-stricken Colorado River, with California — the largest water consumer — being the sole holdout.
Northern Nevada and rural parts of the state have a different dynamic than southern Nevada.
“As you grow, where will all that water come from? And if you’re not prepared for it, the impact could be huge,” said Edwin James, board member of the Nevada Water Resource Association.
James often says that the water systems stay in their own bubbles.
“They have urban areas that are growing now, they need water, so look at water resources. All the water is allocated, so if you try to take water, you have to take it from another source, and farming is always at risk,” James said.
Bill Hauck, supply supervisor for the Truckee Meadow Water Authority, says the water system still provides users with adequate levels even when levels are low in Lake Tahoe or the Truckee River.
“We have water from three sources. We have groundwater wells. We have water rights from the Truckee River system. We also have upstream drought reserves stored in federally owned and privately owned reservoirs upstream,” Hauck explained.
Hauck says these three sources are being used together and managed in an integrated manner to create one reliable source, and with this winter’s above-average snow cover, northern Nevada is in good shape.
“All of the reservoirs in the Truckee River system are expected to recover significantly, if not completely, this year,” Hauck said.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority gets 90% of its water from the Colorado River and has active discussions with six of the seven states in the Colorado River Basin. 60% of the water goes outside and 40% goes inside.
All indoor water is treated and returned to the Colorado River, expanding water supply credits. “I think because of the infrastructure investments we’ve made in Southern Nevada, we’ve spent over $1.5 billion on a third suction and pumping station that will give us access to Lake Mead at all levels of operations,” said Southern Nevada Director Zane Marshall the water authority the water authority.
The federal government is seeking further reductions from southern Nevada.
“The Bureau of Reclamation is looking for reductions of 2 to 4 million acre feet across the basin. Certainly more needs to be done to find ways that we can reduce aggregate demand,” Marshall said.
Representatives from the water system, technicians, research institutes, academics and tribal governments attend the NWRA conference.
The Desert Research Institute and the University of Nevada Reno presented updates on their establishment of an online water resource network. The project will collect data and exchange information between all water systems.
It should allow for broader collaboration and information-sharing with the public and elected officials.