VERDI, NV - We told you last week how the drought is causing the shut-off of canals that feed TMWA's three power plants. Tuesday, those canals were almost empty of water, but they were still filled with fish that have swum in over the years. Now they need help getting to fresher, deeper water.
"These will be completely dry probably by next week," said Pat Nielson, who is in charge of TMWA's hydro power generation.
Tuesday, an effort started to save the fish.
"Fortunately for us we are able to rescue a good portion of these fish and put them back into the water," said Chris Healy with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
It's a pretty complicated process. 20 or so volunteers put on protective gear and hop in the water, ready to net the fish when they appear. The key to the operation is special backpacks with batteries inside. They shock the water and cause the fish to float to the surface.
"It is cool to see some good-sized fish, too. You know that there are fish in there but you don't actually know 'til you see them," said Corri Conner, an NDOW volunteer.
Some monster trout were pulled from the canals. The biggest ones were 3-4 pounds. They have likely lived in the canals their entire lives.
"It's a great spot for them. There is plenty of food for them; there is not a lot of predators that are in the canals," said Kim Toulouse, Volunteer Coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
Their home was great, but staying in the canals any longer means certain death. So the fish are loaded into a truck and taken to the Truckee River or Marilyn's Pond in Galena Creek Park, where they'll have a better chance of staying alive.
"It's a good thing. You know we are trying to help the wildlife and the fish population here because of the drought," said Conner.
The drought will continue to have an effect on those canals for a while. They'll be dry until our reservoirs get filled back up; then it will take even more time for the fish to move back in and develop their habitat. It is all dependent on whether the drought continues.