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TMWA: Water quality is paramount to our region (sponsored)


The Truckee Meadows Water Authority each year releases its annual water quality report. This report details drinking water quality from the TMWA service territory, and residents can access even more current water quality from their own neighborhoods online. That information is available here.

We sat down with Will Raymond, TMWA’s Operations and Water Quality Manager, to learn more about the annual report.

Question:  Can you give us a brief breakdown of general water quality in the Truckee Meadows?

Will: We have exceptional water quality in the Truckee Meadows, and I think we demonstrate that through the rigorous testing and reporting processes in order to adhere to local, state and federal water quality parameters. I’m very proud to say that the water we deliver helps keep our customers safe as they go through these challenging times.

Q: Can you speak about the state and federal standards you have to meet?

Will: Sure. The requirements roll down from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to the State of Nevada, to Washoe County Health District. Through a routine set of sampling, we have to demonstrate our compliance at every level, with all safe drinking water parameters.

In meeting these requirements, there are some things we do every 15 minutes, there are some things we do every three hours, and there is testing we do every day. We go out through the water distribution system and take routine repeat samples every month at over 180 locations in our system to make sure the water that our customers receive is safe and meets all regulatory requirements. And, we’re very proud to say that this work has been uninterrupted and continues safely as our employees have adjusted to the COVID-19 mandates.

Q: You have a whole team dedicated to this?

Will: Yes, many sections of the company are responsible for sending safe drinking water out to our customers. It goes well beyond just the operations staff treating the water.  It includes the water quality staff who are out there testing and ensuring the water is safe.  It includes the distribution crews who make sure the water is moving the correct way in the system.  It includes people in the office and in the field adjusting their daily work routine to assure consistent water quality.  All this comes together, it’s not just one department making it happen.

Q: How has the pandemic affected operations?

Will:  TMWA has always had emergency response procedures in place, yet COVID-19 had us take a fresh look at how we get our jobs done, and how we had to tighten things up. Initially the uncertainty created challenges, but we quickly put together new protocols and procedures to keep our employees safe, as well as keep the public safe when we interact with them. While safe drinking water is always our number one focus, during COVID the paramount importance of clean, safe water for disinfection and washing hands became another essential aspect of our work. We have always had an incredibly dedicated workforce at TMWA, and in meeting the needs of our customers during this pandemic, I think staff has done an amazing job being flexible, remining focused and coming together as a team no matter where they were working from.

Q: What can you talk about as far as what you’re testing for and what you have found?

Will:  We sample what is leaving our groundwater wells and our water treatment- anything that enters into the distribution system. We monitor on a set schedule set by the Environmental Protection Agency with an outlined set of regulations to follow. In the course of doing these sampling events, we have to report our detected primary regulated constituents through the Water Quality Report, which is a public document.

This reporting is an annual requirement from the EPA through the Safe Drinking Water Act.  In it, we identify where our water comes from, including any source contaminants that may be present, and provide customers with health information regarding this water.  We’re very happy to say that our treatment processes produce water that is well within all regulated levels, and this report offers our customers another validation that TMWA delivers outstanding water quality.

If somebody does not have access to the Internet, we’re more than happy to send a hard copy, and once that request for a hardcopy is made, that keeps you on the hardcopy distribution list every year.  Distribution happens every summer, usually by July 1. If you’ve opted in for that hardcopy of the Water Quality Report, you’ll get that report every year.

Q: If we go out camping, and we’re not close to treated water, you basically have to treat your own water if you’re going to drink natural water; whereas, what you’re getting from the tap has already been through that process through treatment. Is that another fair way to put it?

Will: That is a fair way to put it. I think we’re very blessed in this country that you can turn the tap on and you get fresh, clean water, in both quality and quantity. Many, many areas in the world do not have that luxury. We’re very fortunate to have skilled scientists and highly certified staff that treat the water. Hopefully you don’t give it a second thought when you turn the faucet on and you get cold, clean water that is safe to drink.

Q: Our source water by and large comes from upstream reservoirs and Lake Tahoe. That’s kind of abnormal, right?

Will: You are right. When you look at the resiliency of our upstream watersheds, Truckee Meadows Water Authority has the ability to store water in six different lakes or reservoirs, including Lake Tahoe as our primary source. We work very closely with the federal water master on how much water is allowed to be stored in the reservoirs and what has to be released to meet federal requirements on river flows. The Truckee River Operating Agreement coming into play has helped give us a lot of stability. Our river system and our utility are very robust and that gives us a lot of backup supplies. We’re very, we’re very lucky to have this system in place.

Q: What else would you like to add?

Will: It’s been proven that conventional water treatment plants effectively deal with viruses and bacteria in raw water. Chlorination of public drinking water supplies, in my opinion, is one of the greatest achievements in public health in the 20th Century. Saving lives from waterborne diseases, when you look at mortality, and based on the chlorination of public drinking water supplies, it’s been super effective. Again, I’m very proud to say that we meet all regulations, and we demonstrate that through the water quality report. We have staff available 24-7, and they take pride in being here on the front lines of improving public health.

Get the Water Quality Report: https://quality.tmwa.com/

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