Fallon area canal flow levels drop

FERNLEY -- Farmers and ranchers are expressing concern over reduced flows spurred by a breach of a century-old irrigation canal that flooded hundreds of homes in January in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno.

Water for ranches and farms will be at least 10 percent less this growing season, said officials of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District.

The irrigation district, which operates the 31-mile Truckee Canal that takes water from the Truckee River near Fernley to farms and ranches around Fallon, was allowed to reopen the canal on March 21. It had been dry since the Jan. 5 breach.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the canal, authorized the district to initially send water through the canal at 150 cubic feet per second, 20 percent of the canal's operating capacity of 750 cfs.

The bureau, which will allow the flow to increase to 250 cfs starting today, is keeping water at low levels because both the agency and Fernley residents fear another breach.

The irrigation district has notified water rights holders that water deliveries could drop even lower than 10 percent depending on this season's runoff from the Sierra Nevada snowpack.