Swan Lake water irrigates hay field 5 miles away

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 4:19 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - For several years it’s been the story of Swan Lake.

A wet winter back in 2017, combined with effluent and flood waters filled what is typically a dry lakebed.

Homes were damaged and walls were built and still the questions about what to do with the water remain. Last year with approval by the city of Reno and the Airport Authority a pipeline was built along with a pump.

Now water travels five miles to an open area called American Flats owned by the county.

“About 160,000,000 gallons we’ve pumped,” says Bryan Heller, City of Reno Assistant Director of Public Works. Heller says the pumping started about two months ago. “Since April 1st which has lowered the lake by about three tenths of a foot,” says Heller.

Reno taxpayers laid out the initial $2.7 Million to pay for the pipe and pump.

They continue to pay the monthly power bill.

However, the preparation of land, equipment to irrigate, and planting of hay was later paid for by the farmer who won the bid to maintain the 250 acres.

He should recoup his investment once the hay is sold. Heller says the farmer receives 2,000 gallons of water every minute at no charge.

He says the lake goes down 2.5 feet every summer.

This method contributes about four inches to the effort. Initially the 250 acres will grow grain hay.

But with a 7-year contract they hope to eventually grow alfalfa.

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