Ditches Suffer in Drought

MGN Online
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RENO, NV - In about a week the water in Boca Reservoir will dry up and the level of the Truckee River will drop to about half. It has implications for recreation, but more importantly irrigation.

Ditches like this one spread water to dry areas all around the Truckee Meadows. They feed parks, golf courses and small farms. Next week, for the first time in 20 years, they're going to dry up right in the middle of summer.

Irrigation ditches are placed throughout Washoe County. They start near the state line and weave their way north to Spanish Springs or South Meadow. There are 7 of them in all.

"There is still quite a few properties that are irrigated and they rely on that water to keep their pastures green," said David Wathen, Hydrologist for the Federal Water Master's Office.

Highland ditch, near Verdi was gushing with water on Thursday, but starting next week there wont be enough water in the river to support ditches.

"we are running out of storage in Boca reservoir, and we are very limited in what we can release out of Tahoe." said Wathen.

The river flow through Reno right now is about 250 cubic feet per second. When Boca dries up next week, the flow will drop to about 100 cubic feet per second.

"That water will be distributed based on the priority system and who has the best right to use the water," said Chad Blanchard, Federal Water Master.

The Pyramid Lake Pauite Tribe and TMWA have the most rights, they'll get water. But what about most of those 7 ditches?

"They will be shut off for the season. Just do to lack of water," said Wathen.

Golf courses will be effected, so will farms, and Rancho San Rafael Park.

"Certainly there are going to be impacts, no one wants to be out of water at the end of July," said Bill Hauck, Hydrologist with TMWA.

It's a fact of life during drought. It just comes as a shock this year because the last time it happened this early was 1994.

"It catches some people off guard. You know it has been 20 years so it is something that we have not had to deal with in quite some time."