Despite Snowpack, Nevada Reservoir Still Low Due to Canal Breach

Despite a healthy Sierra snowpack, Lahontan Reservoir's water level remains low due to the January 5th irrigation canal break that swamped hundreds of homes in Fernley, officials said.

Dave Overvold, project manager of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation
District, said Truckee River diversions have been cut to the canal since the breach. The 32-mile Truckee Canal takes water south to farmers around Fallon, about 60 miles east of Reno.

The Fallon-area reservoir held 101,900 acre-feet of water as of Jan. 31, about a third of its capacity of just more than 300,000 acre-feet, officials said.

Overvold said it was too early to say if Fallon-area farmers would receive a full allotment of water this year.
"It depends on when the canal reopens," Overvold told the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper. "We will have some diversion (when it reopens), but not a lot. Hopefully, we can catch up."

He said he was cautiously optimistic the reservoir would reach the target level, which is based on the April-July forecasted flow at Fort Churchill west of Fallon.

The current forecast calls for 195,000 acre-feet at that time, more than the 30-year average of 178,000 acre-feet.

Federal Bureau of Reclamation officials have said water will not be allowed to flow into the canal again until it's deemed safe. They have offered no time estimate for when that will be.

Separate teams of outside experts and government personnel are
investigating possible causes of the canal break.

President Bush has declared the high-desert town of Fernley, 30 miles east of Reno, a national disaster area, making federal relief available to those whose homes were inundated.

The reclamation bureau owns the canal, while the Truckee-Carson
Irrigation District operates and maintains it under a contract with the bureau.
Information from: Lahontan Valley News,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-02-10-08 2026EST