Nevada's Drought: The Ripple Effects

SevereBrutalHistoric. Devastating. Dangerous.

These words are being used by scientists, environmentalists,  farmers, ranchers, tourism officials, emergency managers, and a host of other specialists across Nevada to describe the drought.

As we enter the  fourth year of drought, and as temperatures rise this summer, the state will face myriad challenges relating to everything from agriculture to wildfires to water conservation. That's why KUNR is talking to community members and experts alike, bringing you the latest updates on this natural disaster. 

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This special series from the Reno Public Radio news team provided detailed reports and tips throughout the week of April 27-May 1 on water availability, ranching, residential landscaping, native plants and fire danger. Hear and read about the stories below.

Email us with your feedback about this series.

Good News About June Water Savings

Jul 10, 2015
Truckee Meadows Water Authority

Recent rains and customer response to a voluntary request for a reduction in water use has resulted in more good news for the local water supply. 

Truckee Meadows Water Authority reports water production for the month of June was 10 and half percent lower compared to June of 2013.  Factoring in May consumption figures, which were down 19% compared to the same month in 2013, a total of 817 million gallons have been saved by TMWA customers so far. 

With historically high temperatures, low humidity, and dry, dry land, Northern Nevada is facing what could be a devastating fire season. For our ongoing series on the drought and all its ripple effects, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss ventured out to Washoe Valley where local firefighters have been preparing for what this summer may bring.  

Greg Jackson is an operator for the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, and he’s hiking through the woods to a half-dead, towering pine tree that his crew will cut down for practice. 

The lush green lawns around Washoe County are sparking a local debate about what types of plants are right for the dry high desert region, especially during this fourth year of drought. As part of our series on the ongoing drought, Reno Public Radio's Anh Gray reports.

Drought A "Positive Thing" For Landscaping Business

Apr 29, 2015
Esther Ciammachilli

Believe it or not, some businesses flourish when there's a drought. As Nevada enters it's fourth dry season in a row, many residents are trying to do their part to conserve water and they're asking area landscapers for help. Reno Public Radio's Esther Ciammachilli sat down with Lebo Newman from  Signature Landscapes to see how the drought is impacting their business and get tips on how to save water.  

University of Nevada, Reno

Out on the range, the drought means a lot of things—not having enough water to quench the thirst of your cattle or not having enough feed growing where you need it most.

And then there’s the danger of a wildfire.

All of these problems are leading many ranchers to ship their animals east. Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss spoke to Bryan Masini to learn more. He owns ranches outside Yerington and Elko. 

  

Alexa Ard

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority is asking customers to voluntarily cut their water usage by ten percent. To figure out how to actually do that, we reached out to local experts who offered these tips:

Tip #1: Monitor and adjust your irrigation system

People use four times more water in the summer to irrigate their lawns. Here's Master Gardener Wendy Hanson-Mazet from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension with a tip on how to cut back on that amount.

Tip #2: Use mulch

This time last year, Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss visited Rick Lattin in Fallon where they toured his farm and talked about Lattin’s growing concern for his crops, especially the alfalfa.

Now, with yet another harvest threatened by the ongoing drought, Michelle checked up on Lattin to find out how he and other farmers in that community are holding up.

Do We Have Enough Water?

Apr 27, 2015

The Sierra Nevada is experiencing the most dismal snowpack in a century, causing many people to worry about the water supply.

“We really need to be much more conservative, and we all need to cut back,” Sandy Rogers said.

“There’s an enormous number of people; we all want water," Oscar Salgado said. "There’s more people every day, and apparently there’s less water every day.”

“I’m nervous that there’s not going to be any water left," Katherine Gonzalez said.  "If you look at the Truckee River right now, it looks like a creek.”