The reservoir stores water for the agricultural area surrounding Lovelock, which is at the far downstream reach of the Humboldt, near the Humboldt Sink. The Lovelock area receives 5.76 inches of rain annually. The dam was built between 1935 and 1936 as New Deal project. The dam was funded by the Public Works Administration and employed workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps. The dam was expanded in 1975-6, raising the dam three feet to provide the reservoir with more storage capacity. Average annual storage throughout its year history is approximately 45,000 acre-feet. Game fishes include white crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, wipers (stripe-white bass hybrid), walleye, yellow perch, channel catfish, bluegill, and white bass.
The reservoir stores water for the agricultural area surrounding Lovelock, which is at the far downstream reach of the Humboldt, near the Humboldt Sink. The Lovelock area receives 5.76 inches of rain annually. The dam was built between 1935 and 1936 as New Deal project. The dam was funded by the Public Works Administration and employed workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps. The dam was expanded in 1975-6, raising the dam three feet to provide the reservoir with more storage capacity. Average annual storage throughout its year history is approximately 45,000 acre-feet. Game fishes include white crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, wipers (stripe-white bass hybrid), walleye, yellow perch, channel catfish, bluegill, and white bass.
While flooding concerns continue upstream, Lovelock Valley farmers welcome the swollen crest of the Humboldt River and the steady rise of the Rye Patch Reservoir. It should be a good water year with at or near the full irrigation water allotment of three acre-feet delivered for the first time in years.

After years of drought, there's now almost too much water according to some farmers and irrigation officials. Muddy fields are difficult to level and plant and slippery canals and ditches are tough to clear.

Pershing County Water Conservation District Manager Bennie Hodges said he believes the reservoir will be filled to capacity this year. The man-made lake can hold up to 200,000 acre-feet of water. Last week, Hodges said the reservoir had reached about 53,000 acre-feet with a substantial daily increase.

“It's coming up about 1,800 to 2,000 acre-feet per day,” he said. “We're still working on putting gates in, still working on our power plant and we're getting ready for possibly bigger flows from up above.”

Farmers in charge of the irrigation district will consider the water situation again this week at the monthly meeting of the PCWCD Board of Directors. Hodges thinks they might postpone the irrigation season until the fields dry out enough for farmers to complete laser leveling and planting, if needed.

“March 15 is the starting date for irrigation but this year is so wet, I don't think they're going to want water on the 15th of March,” he said. “I'm thinking toward the end of March or first of April because they still have to get in the fields and farm.”

County Commissioner Larry Rackley witnessed upstream flooding during a recent trip to Grass Valley.

“You can't even tell where the river is because the water is out of the banks,” he said. “It shows you how much water is coming down the Humboldt River.”

State Division of Water Resources official Steve Delsoldato said recently there has been some minor flooding along the Humboldt River in Pershing County between Imlay and the Rye Patch Resevoir. If major flooding becomes a concern, water could be diverted into the older Pitt Taylor Reservoirs, he said. Rye Patch Reservoir could eventually fill up but that could take awhile according to Delsoldato.

“We're adding about 2,000 acre-feet a day so that's a pretty slow process to reach the 200,000 acre-feet capacity of the reservoir,” he said. “If it looks like it's going to go over the (dam) spillway, we will definitely use the Upper and Lower Pitt Taylor Reservoirs for storage. I think I can store about 45,000 acre-feet (of water) between the two reservoirs.”

“As far as flooding, it's mostly the meadows that get irrigated anyway near the river bottom” he said. “The only structures that might affected would be the Flying M Ranch. I talked to Mr. Tim Delong this morning and he said things look pretty good but obviously the peak of the river is not there yet.”

As colder temperatures return, Delsoldato said flows in the Humboldt River should slow down. When the weather warms up, there's the potential for flooding in other areas such as Grass Valley.

Meanwhile, smoke could be seen rising to the south of the irrigation district office as farmers tackled another product of plentiful rain and melting snow from upstream and the surrounding mountains. Farmer Craig Starr said he'll be fighting weeds already crowding this year's young alfalfa plants.

“With all this moisture, there's a lot of weeds,” Rackley said.

Last week, Hodges and Rackley said they were still expecting the parts needed to complete the hydroelectric power generator at Rye Patch Dam. As water is released for the 2017 irrigation season, the power plant will generate electricity for NV Energy's grid and cut power costs for the district.

Hodges wouldn't rule out a possible release of excess water from Rye Patch Dam sometime this year.

“I wouldn't be surprised if we have to spill water a little bit later,” he said. “It's too early to tell really.”