We are officially in the middle of an drought here in Nevada. It's a growing concern for a lot of folks in our area, especially ranchers and farmers in Fernley and Fallon. Generations of the Schank family have owned and operated an alfalfa farm in Fallon for more than 70 years.
"My family has been here since 1939," says Ernie Schank. "I have personally lived on the ranch my entire life."
So they've seen droughts before, just like the one we're in now. Schank says if it continues, farmers will be in serious trouble.
"My concern is planting new alfalfa and spending the money for the seed which is very expensive whether or not we'll be able to have water next year to water it," he says.
We aren't the only ones craving rain these days though. Vegetable and grain prices are on the rise around the country.
"You're going to start seeing it in the supermarkets as a result of what's going on in the Midwest and what's going on down in the California area," says Schank.
Food prices are up, and farmers' wallets are much lighter too. A water shortage means gross revenues are down big time.
"So 10 percent shortage means probably a 20 percent (loss) in my pocketbook," says Schank.
The good news for Fallon farmers, Lake Tahoe's water supply is still in good shape for now. In Fernley though, it's a different story. There, ranchers and farmers rely on a water canal supplied by the Truckee River.
"So we have to rely completely on the flows in the Truckee River," says David Stix. "So when those flows are down, it makes it really hard."
Stix owns and operates a cattle ranch in Fernley. He shows us the canal which is still full of life, but the water levels are low by about four feet.
"It's the lifeblood of Fernley," Stix explains. "Drinking water and then for us, water for the cattle."
The problem for Stix, there may not be enough water to go around for all his cattle. A difficult situation for all Fernley farmers.
"Are we going to rebuild our fields, redo our fields, or are we just going to stick it out and hope that we get some good snow pack," wonders Stix.
It's a gamble for these farmers, who are just hoping mother nature finally cooperates.
"We are really relying on this winter, or it will have devastating effects on us," says Schank.
Government officials want people to know municipalities are still fine on water supply this year, and there is no shortage of drinking water.
Thursday, May 23 2013 2:59 AM EDT2013-05-23 06:59:26 GMT
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