Today, during a year in review and water supply outlook press conference, Bill Hauck, water supply administrator at the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) said that in January the Truckee watershed was on track for an average water year, but the last two months have been exceptionally dry, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) stream flow runoff projections are distinctly bleak.
“The NRCS forecast has been so dry, and we’ve all just been sitting there watching the forecast degrade. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this,” said Hauck via Zoom.
TMWA gets most of its water from the Truckee River. Lake Tahoe, Boca Reservoir, Stampede Reservoir, Prosser Reservoir, Independence Lake, and Donner Lake are the primary storage basins on the Truckee River system. Water is captured to be released later to meet downstream flow requirements of the Truckee River Operating Agreement, but despite a good supply of water in storage this year, according to Hauck, later this summer, river flow will be low if projections are accurate.
“There still will be water in the Truckee, but after about the third week of August, river flows are going to look a little different, as all the stored water in Boca (reservoir) is exhausted and Lake Tahoe is in rim control,” Hauck said during the meeting. “So with all 17 outlet gates open, you’re only going to be able to get out what you can get out. Consequently, flows are going to fall off pretty sharply around the third week of August.”
Explore the storage lakes/reservoirs on the Truckee River system with this interactive map.
The NRCS stream flow runoff projection for Lake Tahoe is 15 percent of normal. The projection for the Truckee River at the Farad gauging station is about 31 percent of normal, according to Hauck.
Hauck was sure to say that conservation measures are in effect all the time, but this year has formally been proclaimed a drought for planning purposes, which means enhanced conservation measures will be implemented.
Enhanced water conservation measures are enacted when drought conditions have been determined and upstream reserves are projected to be needed to meet customer demand. In addition to the typical odd/even watering schedule, enhanced demand and management practices include:
Enhanced communications and messaging to heighten community awareness of water usage.
No lawn watering between 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM.
Additional “water watchers” have been hired to monitor for proper water usage.
Depending on the severity of the drought, TMWA has the ability to implement other conservation initiatives such as increased watering restrictions, and requests for reductions in water use.
The TMWA website has details for evaluating water usage and tips on how to make homes and businesses as water-efficient as possible.