Now that TMWA’s consolidation with Washoe County’s Department of Water Resources (WCDWR) is firmly in our review mirror, we are happy to be able to move forward on a number of projects that allow for improved management of the water resources in our area. The big concept that we will be implementing here is something called conjunctive use. Simply put, conjunctive use describes a dynamic management of surface and ground-water resources that allows us to both actively and passively recharge wells when adequate surface water supplies are available. This is particularly important during droughts like the one we are experiencing now. Resting and recharging wells during the wet part of the year helps to insure that they will be there when we need them deep in the dry, summer months. Currently, TMWA is recharging—i.e. banking—approximately 7.5 million gallons of water a day into our local aquifer.
To help improve our capacity for conjunctive use of our water resources, several water infrastructure projects are underway. Here are a couple of examples:
The North Valleys Integration Project involves construction of about 29,000 feet of water main in the Lemmon Valley area. This will allow the Fish Springs groundwater supply to provide up to 8,000 acre-feet per year for use within the North Valleys area. This groundwater supply will offset an equal amount of surface water that would otherwise have to be pumped into the North Valleys area. It will also help TMWA conserve additional upstream drought reserves should the drought continue. This $17.8 million project is currently under design with construction scheduled to begin late this summer or fall with a completion date of June 1, 2016.
TMWA is also planning to make water system improvements that will deliver up to 1,500 gallons per minute of off-peak water supply for recharging existing groundwater wells in the Arrowcreek, and ultimately the Mount Rose, areas. These areas currently rely exclusively on groundwater wells for their water supply and the continuing drought has severely limited the amount of natural recharge to the local aquifers. This $2.3 million project is scheduled for construction this summer with a planned completion in November 2015 to allow recharge throughout the off-peak water season. This is the first part of a multi-phase project. Phase two is planned for 2016-2017.
Our integration with former WCDWR infrastructure is just beginning and we expect it will take a number of years, along with a lot of work and planning, to get conjunctive use firing on all cylinders. Still, we are off to a great start and happy that we are now past consolidation and able to really dig into the important improvements needed in managing our local water supply.