As the season’s biggest rainstorm blustered outside, directors of the Nevada Irrigation District on Wednesday (March 14) declared a Stage 2 water shortage alert, calling for voluntary water conservation by customers this year. The board’s unanimous action was based on forecasts that spring runoff from the mountain watershed will be only about 40 percent of average. Directors noted that continued wet weather could boost runoff and ease the potential shortage.
NID Board President Nick Wilcox said “At this point it would be irresponsible for us not to declare Stage 2 – you can’t just look out the window,” He went on to say , the situation could change, but it’s better to be prepared. We have to be very careful.”
The board approved an updated version of the district’s drought contingency plan. It outlines five stages water supply, ranging from Stage 1 with normal conditions to Stage 5, which is a critical water shortage emergency with a 35-50 percent shortage. With considerable precipitation in the short term forecast, directors expressed hope that voluntary conservation measures would be sufficient for this year, while maintaining adequate reservoir carryover storage for next year. With the Stage 2 declaration, NID will ask all customers to voluntarily reduce water use by 10-15 percent. The district will offer irrigation water users the water- and moneysaving option of reducing their annual purchase for this year only. New irrigation water customers will be limited to purchase of one-half miners’ inch of water.
Meanwhile, the district will purchase all water made available by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company and will limit its own sales of surplus water. Educational outreach efforts are planned to keep the community informed of the situation.