Sierra Snowpack: Worst In Century

Mar 31, 2015

The Sierra snowpack is now the worst it’s been in a century. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.

Jeff Anderson, with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, just measured 13.2 inches of water content in the snowpack up at the Mt. Rose summit. In a normal season, there would be about 90 inches of snow.

“When you look at the mountains right now," he says, "and you look at the snow that’s up there, you’re really seeing history.”

With the region’s water supply quickly diminishing, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority is asking consumers to voluntarily reduce their usage by 10 percent.

John Erwin with the agency says lawn care is a major culprit for water waste.  

“The most use of water by our consumers is outdoor irrigation," Erwin explains. " The waste that it’s associated with the use of water is an inefficient sprinkler system.”

The authority will request even more water reduction if necessary as summer approaches.

Jim Thomas heads hydrologic sciences at the Desert Research Institute. He expects conservation to go even further: 

“The voluntary restrictions we see now, I’m sure, will become mandatory as the drought goes on.  We’re going to have to cut back, people may eventually lose some of their lawns, some of their bushes. I know people like to grow local gardens, things like that will probably go away.”

The water authority has found that, in the past, consumers have been responsive to requests for reducing their consumption and have actually exceeded expectations.