Fallon Farmers Running Out of Water - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Fallon Farmers Running Out of Water

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Fallon farmers knew they would be facing a water shortage this year, but as it turns out, they have less water than expected. In a typical year, they can irrigate until November 15th. This year, it will end two months early.

Fallon's irrigation comes from the Lahontan Reservoir, which can store 312,000 acre feet of water.

Right now, it only has about 11,000 left, and once it gets down to 4,000 acre feet, irrigation will be cut off.

"I think a lot of it is because of the heat and we've had a lack of precipitation but most of us knew going into it, that we would have to make some adjustments in our crop rotation," Ernie Schank, President of the Board of Directors of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District said.

Schank raises alfalfa and cattle in the Fallon area and is facing a loss in revenue.

Most of Fallon's alfalfa farmers will get four cuttings a year.

But this year, they're lucky to get three.

And a farmer that irrigates eight times a year, is doing it about six times this year.

"I would say it would be at least a 30 percent cut in their income," Aaron Williams, Fallon farmer said.

Irrigation district officials say regulations on the Truckee Canal is also affecting water supply.

The canal was built to carry up to 1,500 cubic feet of water per second.

But regulations have reduced the flow to less than half of normal, after a levy broke in 2008, causing a flood in Fernley.

Farmers say the lack of water could mean higher food prices.

"I would say your milk could go up in the store, that sort of thing, beef," Williams said. "But the milk would be the biggest thing. This valley produces a lot of milk."

"I think all in all, you'll see feed prices go up a little bit and you'll see vegetable and food prices go up in the store," Schank said.

Most alfalfa is on a five to seven year rotation, but farmers say a lot of it won't survive the drought, and they will have to replant next year.

That means the effects will linger, even with a wet winter.

"If we were to have a 100-percent year, we would probably be short ten to 20 percent of our revenue, simply because we would have to rotate our ground," Schank said.

The irrigation district says they can't guarantee that people that order water will have those orders filled. They expect to run out of water by Thursday or Friday.

Written by Paul Nelson
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