Monthly Archives: September 2014

Water for Tesla?  Not a problem?

American White Pelicans at Pyramid Lake. Pyramid Lake has fallen more than 25 feet since the drought began in 2000.

When you think of an industrial facility such as the Tesla Lithium Battery Gigafactory, it is easy to overlook the need for water to run it.  But most places that make things need to use water at some point in the process.  The Tracy power plant east of Reno is an example.  It is located on the Truckee River because to make power you need water for both the steam-powered turbines and for cooling. How much water will the Tesla Lithium Battery Gigafactory require every year? Will Tesla’s gigafactory recycle water and have little net use of water?  Or will it require lots of water?

The proposed Tesla Battery Gigafactory designed to match the 2013 world-wide output of lithium batteries by 2020. The gigafactory is now slated for Nevada's Storey County in the TRI Center.

The proposed Tesla Battery Gigafactory designed to match the 2013 world-wide output of lithium batteries by 2020. The gigafactory is now slated for Nevada’s Storey County in the TRI Center.

On September 5th, Mark Robison of the RGJ wrote an article “No water worries for Tesla at Reno industrial park.”  Therein he quotes the owner of the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Park (TRI), Lance Gilman, as claiming he has ample water.

“We’re really not impacted by the drought situation,” [Gilman] said. “Our water source appears to be incredibly stable and we haven’t seen a change in it at all (during the drought). We can pump 2 to 3 million gallons a day or more under today’s capacity and that’s, of course, expandable dramatically.”

In a more recent RGJ article on Reno’s potential lack of sewer capacity, it said TRI would like to receive water from the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility.

” The Tahoe Reno Industrial Center has already expressed interest in the effluent. The Regional Plan, however, prohibits the gray water from being shipped out of the service area.”

The TRI facility lies within the Truckee River watershed and groundwater or surface water use will impact the Truckee River and Pyramid Lake and communities east of the Truckee Meadows.

The Truckee River in September 2014 below the Glendale TMWA Treatment Plant is mostly dry.

The Truckee River in September 2014 below the Glendale TMWA Treatment Plant is mostly dry.

How much water Tesla needs and where that water will come from did not appear to be part of the decision-making process for Governor Sandoval’s negotiators.

It should have been.  The Tesla deal could cost us a lot more than the negotiated $1.25 billion.

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“Where’s the water for Reno and Sparks?”

Carl Adams' YouTube Video "Where is the Water for Reno and Sparks"

In his public interest documentary video, Reno’s Carl Adams asks the $64 thousand dollar question about water.  Where is it?  Perhaps more of us should be asking this very question.  Watch this short YouTube video and you just might be.

I would add to Mr. Adams video another question or two.  How does continuous growth in residential and commercial water consumption affect our regions most iconic places such as the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake?  Just where does “ground water” come from exactly?  Isn’t “ground water” in the Truckee Meadows recharged from the Truckee River and its tributaries?  And isn’t pumping “ground water” a way to “borrow” water from the next year in the hopes that it will be replenished during the winter months?  When do we let people know that more and more development – subdivisions and shopping malls with sprawling lawns and lush landscape more suitable for a rain forest than a desert – results in less water available for everyone?

Just asking.

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Truckee River Cleanup – September 27, 2014 from 8AM to Noon

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful is leading the charge to clean up the River this Saturday.  It’s a place we all love and many of us recreate at every day.  Here’s our chance to clean up and fix up.  Thanks to KTMB for sponsoring this fall cleanup event.

Truckee River Cleanup - Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 8 AM to Noon

Truckee River Cleanup – Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 8 AM to Noon

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Drought to persist through remainder of 2014

NOAA's National Climate Prediction Center shows the drought "persisting or intensifying over California and Nevada through the end of 2014.

Drought relief for Nevada and California is not in the cards according to the Climate Prediction Center at least through December.

“…the Pacific Northwest, and northern and central sections of California and Nevada, and much of western Utah are predicted to have elevated odds of below-median precipitation during the OND (October-November-December 2014) period…”

NOAA's National Climate Prediction Center shows the drought "persisting or intensifying over California and Nevada through the end of 2014.

NOAA’s National Climate Prediction Center shows the drought “persisting or intensifying over California and Nevada through the end of 2014.

The description above seem mild considering the map that accompanies the explanation.  If the winter of 2014-15 turns out to be as dry as 2013-14, our lakes and rivers will be severely impacted again as human uses will take a larger share of the available water leaving little for instream flows.  Continued dropping of water levels at Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe and reservoirs is expected.

Will the Climate Prediction Center prognostication actually happen?  Or will the weak El Niño surprise us with something big as winter approaches.  It has happened before, but we are going to need more than one or even two excellent water years to make up for the losses we’ve seen in western Nevada over the past 14 years.

We in the west find ourselves in a long-term drought of 14 year duration and a warming climate.  Gambling that we’ll be bailed out of our excessive water use by a heavy snow year may not turn out to be a good strategy.

The Truckee River does not have enough water.  Ditches like the Highland ditch have effectively been dry now for more than 6 weeks.

The Truckee River does not have enough water to meet water rights in the Truckee Meadows. Area ditches like the Highland Ditch shown here have effectively been dry now for more than 6 weeks.  TMWA has had to release stored water from its reservoirs to supply its customers.

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