Dry weather and warming in higher elevations do not bode well for the summer water supply. Conservation is vitally important, according to the Nevada Irrigation District (NID).
Water content in the snow is only 55 percent of average for this time of year, based on the findings of the latest survey on snow courses that provide water to raw- and treated water to District customers.
On the five courses, the April 1 historical average water content is 33.4 inches. The latest snow survey measured 18.4 inches.
Dry conditions continued through March and resulted in precipitation that was well below the monthly average, according to Thor Larsen, NID’s Water Resources Superintendent. In addition, the latter part of March experienced some very warm temperatures and, as a result, created early runoff from the snowpack.
NID’s nine reservoirs are currently storing 213,848 acre-feet of water, which is 79 percent of capacity and 98 percent of average.
“While reservoir storage is near average for this time of year, the early runoff from the snowpack will mean a longer drawdown period through the irrigation season. This will result in lower carryover storage heading into the fall,” Larsen said. “The District plans on utilizing all available supplies and continues to request conservation.”
Here are the specifics of the recent snow survey, taken on March 29: NID’s highest course, Webber Peak, at 7,800 feet, had 54.4 inches of snow with a water content of 24.5 inches. The English Mountain snow course (7,100 ft.) had 51 inches of snow with a water content of 25.4 inches. Webber Lake (7,000 ft.) had 41.4 inches of snow with a water content of 19.2 inches. Findley Peak (6,500 ft.) had a snowpack of 29.4 inches and a 14-inch water content. Bowman Reservoir (5,650 ft.) had 19.2 inches of snow and an 8.9-inch water content.
At the lower Chalk Bluff snow course (4,850 ft.) on the Deer Creek watershed, the survey found 0 inches of snow (the Chalk Bluff numbers are not included in the total average).
For the season, cumulative precipitation at Bowman Reservoir is 45.8 inches, which is 78 percent of average, as of March 30.
NID is a member of the California Cooperative Snow Survey and conducts three official snow surveys each year in February, March, and April. Results of the snow surveys are used to predict water availability locally and statewide.