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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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Water Study Shows Mines Lower River Flows

A new study finds the lake in the pit of the former Lone Tree Mine near Battle Mountain is leaching water from the nearby Humboldt River, reducing flow. (Tom Myers)
A new study finds the lake in the pit of the former Lone Tree Mine near Battle Mountain is leaching water from the nearby Humboldt River, reducing flow. (Tom Myers)
June 3, 2016

RENO, Nev. - Mining is shortchanging other water uses in drought-stricken Nevada -- even after a mine shuts down, according to a new report.

When the Lone Tree Mine near Battle Mountain stopped operating in 2007, the study found, the nearby Humboldt River lost 180,000 acre-feet of flow.

Report author and hydrogeologist Tom Myers said mining below the water table means pumping out the local aquifer to keep the mine dry, and dumping the excess water into the nearest river. But when the mine closes, he said, the river naturally replenishes the aquifer, reducing the river flow for farmers, ranchers and others who depend on that water.

"The implications are that if you have a water right on that river, you're less likely to get it," he said. "You're less likely to have water to put on your fields, and there's less water going into the Rye Patch Reservoir."

Myers said the river water loss is 7 percent to 8 percent. There are still six working mines near the Humboldt River, and dozens more around the state.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada commissioned the study. Conservation groups have said they want mining companies to be more efficient in their water use, and think more regulation may be necessary. Ellen Moore, a mining specialist with PLAN, said legislators should take this study's findings into account when planning for the future.

"This became a topic that lots of people are talking about because of the drought," she said. "That's something that we feel like we're not getting the full story on from the mining companies, and something that needs more research, more attention."

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska, Nevada is the driest state in the nation and is now in its fifth year of drought.

The report is online at planevada.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV