Evening Program on Walker Lake discusses Water Acquisition, Fisheries and Agriculture Conservation
An evening program during the Mineral County water festival hosted three speakers discussing the Walker River Basin Project, the US Fish and Wildlife Services Walker River Basin activities including fisheries and the economic analysis water conservation practices for agriculture producers.
Karen Grillo, Walker River Basin Project Coordinator under Nevada System of Higher Education, spoke about the Walker River Basin Project and the activities under the project. The Walker River Basin Project is a comprehensive, research-guided project to sustain the Basin’s economy, ecosystem and lake. This federally funded project involves collaborative environmental and economic research conducted by researchers with the Desert Research Institute (DRI) and the University of Nevada, Reno. It also involves the acquisition of water and water rights from willing sellers under the coordination of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
After a presentation, Grillo answered questions about the project with specific details involving the fisheries and water quality. There was also a detailed conversation regarding the acquisition of water rights and Grillo explaining what a water option entails as far as the purchasing of water rights. She said a water option is somewhat the same as putting earnest money down on a home except for the different criteria in the agreement which includes the Project looking at how much of the purchased water would make it to Walker Lake. The water option money goes toward the purchase price and gives the seller and buyer certain rights specified in the water option agreement. Grillo stated that one water option has taken place and they are looking at two more.
Lisa Hecki, US Fish and Wildlife Service, talked about the $10 million allocation and the river restoration and fishery projects that they are looking at. She talked about the discussion that they are having with the Walker River Paiute Tribe regarding the Lahontan Cutthroat fishery and possible looking at an acclimation facility on reservation for the LCT fishery. She also discussed river restoration and a pilot project for tamarisk removal on the north end of the lake on the reservation. She stated that they are hopeful to get this project going in the near future.
Kynda Curtis and Staci Emm discussed a task they are working on with Thom Harris under the Walker River Basin project which involves the economic analysis of water conservation practices for agriculture producers. The main goal of the task is to keep agriculture land in use while providing dynamic cost/benefit analysis for agriculture producers of moving to water saving crops and/or altering current irrigation methods for water conservation practices. Two of the objectives of the task are to: 1) construct production costs and return budgets for current cropping methods and feasible alternative cropping methods; and 2) conduct sensitivity (risk) analysis based on a distribution of potential seasonal variability in input prices, yields and market prices. Once the analysis and research is completed an educational program for ranchers and farmers in the Walker River Basin will be conducted.
The research under the Walker River Basin Project is exploring the best means to get additional water to the lake while maintaining the Basin’s economy and ecosystem. For more information about the project or the tasks under the project go to the following website: http://www.nevada.edu/walker/about/index.html