Below Average Snowpack Raises Water Concerns - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Below Average Snowpack Raises Water Concerns

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As we reported Monday, our Sierra snowpack finished the year at well below average. This marks the second consecutive dry year for the Truckee River watershed. A lower than average snowpack brings back a common worry…do we face a drought this summer? Will we have to ration water supplies?

At Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Senior Hydrologist Bill Hauck emphatically told us, "No we're not, we're not. Despite the exceptionally dry forecast for runoff this year, we're going to make it through one more year relatively unscathed."

Things are not tight at TMWA. Sure, they would like some catch up snow and rain, but they aren't as worried as you would think. This, despite the government's official Drought Monitor. That shows that right now, northern Nevada is in moderate, severe and extreme drought. Why no water worries this year? Hauck credits "the extensive network of reservoirs we have upstream. We have privately owned drought reserve, emergency storage in Stampede and Boca, Donner and Independence lakes."

And the biggest reservoir that he monitors from his desk: Lake Tahoe. As he showed us from a real-time computer display, "You can see right now, it's about half...about half full. The elevation's 6226.0. It would be a lot worse if we didn't have Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe's going to save our bacon this year, one more time."

The reservoirs have enough water because of the big snow 2 winters ago…one of the best on record for water. We are still riding on its coattails. Hauck told us that "Basically it was that winter that is enabling us to get through this year."

We have had a number of very dry years. But after a snow bounty like that, the system is prepared for 2, 3 even several dry winters in a row before we all might have to cut back. We're not at that point…there's enough water for the summer. But still, we live in a desert, and conservation should still be a way of life. TMWA's Andy Gebhardt reminded us that "The definition of a desert is less than 10 inches of rain a year. We get 7."

Depending on the weather, things could get much worse. Andy has seen it before. And even though reservoirs are well stocked today, he says, "We want people to do the right thing. Continue to water on your assigned days. Continue to not let it run down the gutter. Do the right things and we'll have plenty of water for everybody."

-written by John Potter

We have much more on how you can conserve, information on your assigned watering days, and even Truckee River flows and storage in real time. It's all on TMWA's website…click here: www.tmwa.com

As for watering days, the assigned watering days remain the same this year as for the last several years. If the last number of your home or business address is:

--even (0, 2, 4, 6 or 8), run the sprinklers on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

--odd (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9, run the sprinklers on Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays.

--shut your sprinklers off between noon and 6 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Also, give your sprinklers a rest on Mondays…it's a day to replenish and maintain the water system.

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