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$3.8 million project will help northern Nevada build resiliency to future droughts


Managing water in northern Nevada’s Truckee-Carson River System requires communities to balance urban, agricultural and ecosystem needs. Changes in climate trends are increasingly expected to make this balancing act more challenging.

A competitive, $3.8 million grant has been awarded to the University of Nevada, Reno and the Desert Research Institute (DRI), in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, to integrate science and water policy research with community outreach.

The “Water for the Seasons” project will focus on the Truckee-Carson River system as a model for snow-fed arid-land river systems across the American West.

Water supplies in these area are dependent on the timing, duration and form of winter precipitation and spring run-off. Throughout much of the West, demand for these water supplies is increasing, and many are already stretched to their capacity.

Recent climate extremes and trends — including continued drought, increased winter rain instead of snow, reduced annual snowpack, earlier spring runoffs, flash floods and higher temperatures — present challenges to water managers, farmers and ranchers, developers and the public. This project aims to identify new strategies for enhancing the resiliency of communities in northern Nevada to adapt to these challenges and changes.

“Our goal is to be proactive now so that the region can be better prepared to meet future water management challenges,” said Maureen McCarthy, interim director of the University’s Academy for the Environment. “Ultimately, we are looking for options that will protect our ecosystems, support economic development and enhance the livelihoods of our communities and agricultural producers.”

Sen. Harry Reid commented on the need for the project.

“Nevada is seeing record high temperatures and exceptional drought conditions throughout the state. With the recent extreme weather trends, northern Nevada and the Truckee-Carson River System need the tools to better predict and protect their water supplies,” he said. “The framework that will be put in place by the University of Nevada, Reno and the Desert Research Institute, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, will help Nevada deal with the ongoing drought and the impacts of climate change. There is a great need to better manage and conserve our limited water supplies, and I fully support the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture’s assistance, which will help empower northern Nevada to do so.”

More information on the “Water for the Seasons project will be available online at the University’s Academy for the Environment website, environment.unr.edu/academy/.


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