Bruce Herring: Let’s work together for water conservation solutions |

Bruce Herring: Let’s work together for water conservation solutions

It’s time we begin an elevated dialog about the Centennial Project.

People are just circling wagons and pointing fingers. Pro-dam folks say, “if they only knew how serious the problem is …” Anti-dam folks say, “if they only knew how close minded and expensive this is …”

Yet we all agree on the basic premise — the Sierra snowpack is shrinking and precipitation will remain roughly the same but fall more as rain.

NID’s solution is to build Centennial Dam on the Bear River. They say we need one more “bucket” in the system — with a storage capacity of 110,000 acre feet of water — to get us through three dry years in a row. But reservoirs are drawn down annually to about half their capacity. Thus, the “yield” from Centennial would be around 50,000 acre feet per year, and even less after a few critical years.

A prominent NID board member is on record saying something like this; “show me the numbers for the alternatives and I’ll listen.” This is exactly what NID should be doing. If elected I would propose that NID — in partnership with local and regional experts — follow a blueprint, that might look something like this:

Produce a comprehensive hydrologic, landscape, and climate model that is specific to our watershed. Conduct a thorough cost benefit analysis of all strategies and alternatives. Potential strategies should include but not be limited to sediment removal, conservation, upper watershed enhancement, rainwater catchment, forest thinning, conjunctive groundwater projects, and yes, Centennial.

Many competent people who live and work here would jump at the opportunity to assist NID in this endeavor. Let’s see what pencils out as the most cost effective and least intrusive way to save another 55,000 acre feet per year.

Recently I had the good fortune to tour NID facilities along the Bear, led by a senior staff member. At the end, I thanked him for his time. “No problem,” he said, followed by, “You know, if we all work together we can solve this thing.”

I couldn’t agree more. Let’s adopt the blueprint and get to work!

Bruce Herring is a candidate for the Nevada Irrigation District Division 2 seat.

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