Extra Water Gives Hope To Lovelock Farmers - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Extra Water Gives Hope To Lovelock Farmers

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One of Lovelock's biggest economic drivers is agriculture, but the rural northern Nevada town has had a rough stretch because of the drought.  That bad luck has come to an end, thanks to the high amount of rain and snow that fell during the winter months.  Farmers are preparing their fields for planting.  Some of them have sat bare for five years, but new crops are painting the valley green, making the area look like itself again.

"We're just getting water so there's a lot of dirt work being done," Ron Burrows, Lovelock Farmer said. "There are some wheat fields planted last fall, that's green. Come back in June, you probably won't find a bare field."

Farmers only got 33 percent of their annual water allotment, last year.  The two previous years, they did not have any irrigation water, at all.  Workers were laid off and the economy suffered because of the lack of water.  This year, farmers will receive their full water allotment, which is getting things back on track.

"It creates jobs," Burrows said. "We've got guys coming in looking for work. We need more. Everyone's looking for labor."

Many of the farm workers left town for work in other places.  Their absence is making it hard to find replacements.  Still, the positives outweigh the negatives and morale is growing around town.

"The fields are green, the valley is green. Everybody's doing a lot better now," Bennie Hodges, Secretary-Manager of the Pershing County Water Conservation District said. "You can tell a big difference from the drought years. It was depressing around here. It really was."

The optimism is due to the amount of water in Rye Patch Reservoir.  When it is full, it stores 200,000 acre feet of water.  Today, it has 110,000 acre feet and water is being released from the dam.  The heaviest snow runoff is expected to reach the reservoir by May, and Hodges says it is important to spill water before it gets too full.

"We are spilling water a little earlier than we normally would," Hodges said. "We would rather spill a small amount for a longer period of time than spill a large amount of water for a short period of time."

Hodges says flooding is not a threat in Lovelock because the Humboldt Sink is so dry, which is where excess water eventually winds up.  Rye Patch Reservoir is expected to be completely full by late July.

"It's early in the season, so we have no doubts that we're going to fill this thing up, this summer," Hodges said.

While the farmers are enjoying a full water year, the amount of storage means next year should should be good for agriculture, too.

"We're ecstatic. We haven't been farming much the last four years," Burrows said. "Full water this year. We'll be farming wall to wall, all acres planted, real excited."

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