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Farmers affected by water level in Lahontan Reservoir

FALLON — The water level in the Lahontan Reservoir is only half of normal and getting lower all the time, forcing some farmers who depend on the water to irrigate their crops to forgo planting all their available fields.

David Overvold, project manager for the Truckee Carson Irrigation District, said every farmer or rancher who relies on Lahontan water will have to make do with less this year.

"We’re not going to get a full supply," he said, adding that he expected farmers would receive 25 percent less water for irrigation than last year.

The lake is 70,000 acre-feet right now, half of the 140,000 acre-feet it was last year at this time.

"The year before that it was about 275,000 acre-feet, almost double," he said.

The break in the Truckee Canal that flooded Fernley on Jan. 5 has compounded the shortages because of a drier than normal year, he said.

"This year we only have 35 percent of a normal runoff," he said.

As for the canal break, "if that hadn’t have happened we would have had another three months of 20,000 acre-feet a month. We would have had a full supply."

He said all farms will get less, causing them to leave some fields fallow or suffer a drop in their yield, affecting dairies, ranches and farms that grow everything from cantaloupe to corn to alfalfa, which could cause a rise in prices.

And the lake will continue to drop.

"We expect by the end of August we will be down to 32,000 acre-feet, and we’ll probably shut down around mid-September at about 15,000 acre-feet," he said. "And usually the irrigation season goes on to November."

The Lahontan Reservoir is fed by the Carson River and the Truckee River, where water flows through the Truckee Canal.

What happens next year depends on the amount of runoff from the winter.

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