Snowpack runoff adds less to water supply than expected

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Updated: 5/09/2014 6:09 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- The runoff numbers are in and hydrologists say Lake Tahoe probably won't rise any more this spring or summer.

"Here in The Sierra you basically live and die by the snowpack," Truckee Meadows Water Authority Senior Hydrologist Bill Hauck said.

For the third straight year, we haven't had much snow. 

"When you have very little snow and very dry soils, you lose a lot of that early melt-off directly into the soil, which doesn't make it into the rivers and conversly doesn't make it into the reservoirs," said Natural Resources Conservation Service Hydrologist Beau Uriona.
NRCS measures the snowpack each month, and Uriona said the runoff added even less to the water supply than they expected.

"These kind of things tend to be cumulative," he said. "If we see more years that are low like this, we'll see more and more problems arise from it."
Hauck said there's no reason for residents to worry. 

"The last two years were exceptionally dry, but we're kind of living off the carry over storage from 2011," he said. "2011 was a banner snowpack year and most of the reservoirs upstream either filled or spilled."

While Lake Tahoe is pretty low, that doesn't mean we don't have enough water. 

"We've got ample supplies upstream and in the ground between our 31 production wells," Hauck said. "We're fully prepared to meet customer demand this year."
So we have emergency reserves to use. They're just not being restocked. 

"Mother nature's not putting water back into the reservoirs where we need it," Uriona said.

But Hauck said TMWA is fully prepared - even if the drought doesn't end anytime soon. 

"We plan for a nine year drought, which is one year longer than the longest drought on record, and right now we're not asking our customers to do anything different," he said. 
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