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TMWA: Agreement Would More Than Double Drought Reserves

By Bob Conrad
Published: Last Updated on

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) board met yesterday to discuss myriad topics, mainly drought-focused.

It was identified that the Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA) — signed in 2008 but held up in court since (watch video) — may finally be given the go ahead. If so, the agreement will more than double TMWA’s existing drought reserves in upstream reservoirs.

“When (TROA) is in operation, not only will how the river is managed change, but we’ll be able to save about double the drought storage as we have now,” said Kim Mazeres of TMWA. “It is a very good agreement. We just need to get it out of the court system and get it implemented.”

In a letter submitted to TMWA, U.S. Senator Harry Reid said:

“This transaction is a necessary step to finally trigger the dismal of lawsuits and to commence the implementation of TROA by the end of this year…. Not only will the implementation of TROA provide the Truckee Meadows with very favorable drought rules to allow for more upstream storage for water for use by the residents of the Truckee Meadows, but it will provide flexibility to cope with changing weather patterns that this area has been experiencing in recent years.”

In later testimony, TMWA’s Laine Christman said that there is enough storage right now in upstream reservoirs for the Truckee Meadows to make it through another year of drought.

The board is expected to hear from TMWA staff at the next board meeting near-term scenarios about the current drought — what to do if the drought gets worse.

The board discussed conservation possibilities via turf buy-back programs, plumbing code changes, landscaping codes, dealing with HOAs, changing rate structures and encouraging more xeriscaping.

“As it was requested by the board, we have been working on some near-term scenarios, that, for example, what happens if we get a year like this for more years,” said TMWA General Manager Mark Foree.

Those scenarios are expected to be discussed at the next meeting.

In other TMWA board news:

  • jenny_brekhusReno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus said the homeless encampments along the Truckee River are out of control. She suggested the river bike path may need to be closed at night. Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said Sparks should be involved in those discussions. “The homeless camps are just out of control on the river,” Brekhus said. “Arguably the worst spot right now is adjacent to the Glendale plant. It is a no man’s land…. Along the river side of the Glendale plant is camp after camp, trash after trash…. A city does not let a situation occur like what’s going on along the river, and I’ve been bringing it up to the (City) Council for two years, and we have just not gotten there. I’m starting another dialogue with other folks.”
  • County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung made note that TMWA has been beat up in the press but stressed that TMWA and customers have consistently reached voluntary conservation targets. “Recently, TMWA has been beat up in a number of places by the RGJ editorial board on us not having a drought management plan,” Hartung said. “We’ve really tried very hard here. I’d like to thank the ratepayers. You guys have done a phenomenal job, and the continued support and participation for water reduction measures has been amazing. I think the ratepayers are really great, and they deserve kudos.”
  • Geno Martini (3)Mayor Martini expressed again his frustration with comments made last week at the Reno City Council meeting. He referred to them as “degrading and derogatory. When I read them, I was angry. I’m very, very disappointed in what happened there, especially the people that are on this board making comments about the drought study, which they approved 100 percent. When we have great people in this county and these cities that are making a concerted effort to save water, we should be congratulating them, not kicking the board (and) TMWA in the butt.”
  • Councilmember David Bobzien apologized for any offense taken, saying no disrespect was intended toward his colleagues on the TMWA board. “I think the City (of Reno) recognizes that we have a responsibility to move ahead with the things that we can do not wanting to wait ultimately for a TMWA drought declaration to happen because, of course, that may only happen under the most severe circumstances,” he said.