Low snowpack means water shortage | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Low snowpack means water shortage

The Associated Press

RENO (AP) – This year’s Sierra snowpack now is being termed critically low by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and western Nevada farmers and ranchers will begin feeling the summertime pinch in the next six weeks or so.

The first restrictions on water use are expected to hit June 5 – a month earlier than usual, according to the USDA.

”The lower snowfall is going to decrease the amount of water available below,” said USDA hydrologist Dan Greenlee. ”The restrictions kick off certain users, according to their water rights.”

Measurements by the U.S. Geological Survey indicate the Carson River is flowing at 68 percent of normal.

Throughout Northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe, precipitation levels are significantly lower than historical averages. The Truckee River snowpack water storage is 57 percent of normal, the Walker River is at 71 percent, and Lake Tahoe has received 62 percent of its average precipitation.

In Carson City, low rain and snowfall is hurting groundwater levels, Tom Hoffert, Carson City utility operations manager, told the Nevada Appeal.

”The longer it is below normal, the less replenishment we get of the ground water supply,” he said

The Bureau of Land Management has not made any predictions for the summer fire season, but the low rainfall in Western Nevada has resulted in lower moisture content in the grasses that fuel wild fires.

Compared to an average 14-30 percent moisture content throughout the Great Basin, this year’s measurements of moisture content are falling between 11 and 25 percent. Fire danger is listed as ”normal.”

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