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TMWA Meeting: Drought, GM Review, Customer Satisfaction and More

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We have plenty of water to meet the projected demand, going out to 2060.”

Today’s Truckee Meadows Water Authority Board of Directors covered a lot of ground with a bulk of the meeting focused on future efforts.

Drought Update and El Nino

A long-lingering question is whether and how the region will survive the drought. During public comment, Janet Phillips, president Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway said that ,“compared to where we were in ’92, you guys are in great shape.”

Phillips credited senior water rights and conservation planning efforts as testament to the area’s ability to survive drought years.

TMWA’s Bill Hauck said that an El Nino winter is looking likely. He said that he analyzed available data and said that above-average snowpack is anticipated this upcoming season.

Customer Satisfaction

TMWA’s customer satisfaction remains high. Sara Hart of Infosearch International said that TMWA’s satisfaction ratings among customers is “higher than what is seen typically.”

Overall customer satisfaction is up from 78 percent in 2002 to 92 percent in 2015, demonstrating a steady increase.

“You may have hit the ceiling (of positive ratings),” Hart said.

TMWA’s highest rating: maintaining an adequate water supply. The lowest rating — but still high, Hart said – was public input in decision making.

Board member Naomi Duerr recommended that TMWA incorporate metrics in the future on ranking public input.

“It might be good have a metric … on how we’re measuring public participation,” she said, recommending that goals be set for public participation.

Water quality was rated by 85 percent of customers surveyed as excellent or good; 77 percent of respondents indicated that they rarely or never have a problem with water taste.

TROA

The on-again, off-again Truckee River Operating Agreement has been held up in courts since it was officially signed in 2008. But John Erwin, TMWA’s director of natural resources planning and management, said, “finally, we’re there.”

The agreement is expected to go into effect in the near future and will bring additional drought storage reserves to the area.

“It’s an amazing benefit to the community,” said Sue Oldum, TMWA’s outside legal counsel.

Water Resource Plan

The “Tesla Effect” and Reno’s projected population growth are well noted, but will there be enough water to match projected growth?

“I’m 95% certain at this point in time that (Washoe County’s) population at 2100 will be (about 550,000),” said Shawn Stoddard, TMWA’s senior resource economist. “We have plenty of water to meet the projected demand, going out to 2060.

“Today, this is my projection. Based on everything we know, all the data we have … this is where it takes us.”

Customer water use has declined by more than 11 percent in the past few years due to TMWA’s conservation and outreach efforts, as well as changing in plumbing standards and technological efficiencies, said Laine Christman.

General Manager’s Performance Review

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TMWA General Manager Mark Foree received praise by the TMWA board for his performance.

TMWA General Manager Mark Foree received praise for his performance.

Foree was praised for maintaining financial stability, the merger with the county, conversion of flat-rate meters and TROA.

Employee feedback could be solicited for future evaluations, said Neoma Jardon, board member. She praised Foree’s availability to meet with the board.

“I appreciate you staying open,” she said.

Andy Gebhardt, TMWA’s customer service manager, speaking during public comment, said that TMWA staff is regularly praised by Foree.

“While Mark gives a lot of credit to staff … I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for leading us,” he said. “If I had one phone call to make when everything hits the fan, I’d call Mark.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Mark.”

Foree was asked what he could improve on.

“I think better communication with board members, and more frequent, is something to look toward,” he said.

Jardon agreed, and Board Member Vaughn Hartung said he thought Foree has done a good job of communicating with the board.

He received a 2.1 percent salary increase.

RGJ Environment Reporter Moves On

In other news, the Reno Gazette Journal’s longtime environment reporter Jeff Delong announced during public comment that he had taken a buyout and would be leaving the paper next week. RGJ has been culling a number of its reporters, many of them senior reporters, in the recent past through buyouts and retirements.

Delong said, in reference to RGJ’s coverage of TMWA, that there were “a lot of tense times, but it all went well.” He received applause and praise from the board and members of the public in attendance.

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Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.

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