The two rainstorms from the over the last week in NW Reno really helped the garden. Plants are shining bright green as of early October. The small lawn – mostly brown before – is turning green again. So, we did our part to save water in the Truckee Meadows. We turned off our sprinkler system for at least the next week. We also cut back on watering beginning in September because plants don’t need as much water when night-time temperatures lower along with cooler days. It is great to see rain anytime of the year, but it’s important to remember that these kinds of storms don’t end the drought – or even make much of a dent in it.
A quick check of Lake Tahoe shows how the recent rain here in Reno didn’t translate into a significant drought impact. On September 20 Lake Tahoe’s elevation was 6,222.0 feet. Due to evaporation loses the lake continued to drop through the end of September to 6,221.9 feet. The rain over the first days of October up to the 4th saw the lake rise 6,221.95 feet, but today it is back down to 6,221.9 feet. Bottom line: the Lake stands 1.1 feet below its natural outlet – so no water can flow into the Truckee River. More than a foot of rain is needed to raise the level of Lake back to its outlet. The small rain is helpful to forests and people – and the Lake a little – but we need a lot more to truly make a difference in terms of this long-term drought.
My calculation: we’re 15 years into this drought with only two above average years and a significant deficit in precipitation and river flows over that period.