Dealing with Drought part 5 of 5: Working under federal mandates

About this series

This is Reno sat down with Kim Mazeres, Truckee Meadows Water Authority’s director of customer relations, to explore the complex topic of how a water purveyor deals with the tough realities of drought. We sought to find out more about our area’s water use in key areas:

  1. How well prepared our region is to deal with drought.
  2. Why TMWA schedules water conservation for specific times rather than year-round.
  3. Why TMWA is tapping its reserves for the first time in 20 years.
  4. Which water users are most targeted for conservation, and why.
  5. What rules and regulations require TMWA to act and when.
  6. What key agreement, now in court, will greatly improve our region’s ability to respond to drought.

Video interviews accompany each post in this series, exploring these topics in more detail.


 Where does Truckee River water go? 

Source: TMWA.
Source: TMWA. Click to enlarge.
Source: TMWA.
Source: TMWA. Click to enlarge.

 

Dealing with Drought part 5 of 5

By Bob Conrad, video interview by Bob Conrad and Chris Vega

THIS IS RENO: Can you explain mandated Truckee River flows?

Kim Mazeres, Truckee Meadows Water Authority: The Truckee River has mandated minimum flows managed by the Federal Water Master. For instance, right now, 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) of flow must occur at the Calif.-Nevada state line. During the winter, that rate of flow goes down to 350 cfs. These flows were determined in the 1940s by the Orr Ditch Court Decree. Rates of flow takes into consideration the needs of all users on the Truckee River—municipal in Reno-Sparks, wildlife, Pyramid Lake, the farming communities downstream, irrigation needs in the Truckee Meadows, etc.

As long as there is water in Lake Tahoe and Boca Reservoir, the required rate of flow must be met. You may be surprised to know that this community is a very small user on the Truckee River. In dry years, TMWA diverts eight percent and Truckee Carson Irrigation District gets the largest portion at 46 percent. And, in a normal year, TMWA’s consumption goes down to three percent, while Pyramid Lake benefits the most at 80 percent.

Again, when these rates of flow can no longer be met, we must use our drought reserves. This is the point in time when any water that the community conserves can be held back and saved in our drought reservoirs in Donner and Independence Lakes. We are predicting this will happen at the end of July. We will begin communicating with our customers and the community at that time to remind them that by saving 10 percent, they can do their part.

Where does the water come from for growth in our community?

Because the diversion rights and volume have not changed since the 1940s, what does change is the use of water, such as agricultural to municipal. For more information, see our topic paper: http://tmwa.com/docs/your_water/topics/topics_growth_20120518.pdf .

What else can you add?

As a community, we are all in this together. I hope I have shown that if all of our 94,000 customers help just a little, just 10 percent, we can get through this drought with significant reserves left for next year.

Read the complete serieshttp://conradcomm.wpengine.com/dealing-drought/

Bob Conrad
About Bob Conrad 1059 Articles
Bob Conrad is co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company. He also works part time for the University of Nevada, Reno.