TROA is good for urban Washoe County; problems remain to keep Truckee River system healthy

The Derby Dam diverts Truckee River water from its natural course which goes to Pyramid Lake. Instead water flows into the Truckee Canal to the Carson River.

The TROA (Truckee River Operating Agreement) took 27 years to be finished and lawsuits against the Agreement (actually completed in 2008) settled or withdrawn. Now that the celebrations are done and TROA is implemented, what are the benefits to the over all health of the Truckee River?

Mark Foree, Executive Director of TMWA, announcing the purchase of Donner Lake Water Rights.

Mark Foree, Executive Director of TMWA, announcing the purchase of Donner Lake Water Rights.

Water purchases for water quality to increase water in the Truckee River below Derby Dam for the benefit of Pyramid Lake are certainly a benefit; although the amount of water flow is relatively small, it improves the river’s health during periods of lower flow. Also, changes in the timing of water delivery to water rights holders to benefit riparian forest regeneration is a good thing for the River.

The benefits for the urban portions of Washoe County served by TMWA (Truckee Meadows Water Authority)  are very tangible – storage for drought supply in up-stream reservoirs and water exchanges between reservoirs to benefit water supply. This allows TMWA to call for more water during periods of drought to help meet its overall water rights to support urban and suburban customers.

Nevertheless, the majority of water rights owned on the Truckee River benefits urban uses and farmers in the Carson River negatively impacting the urban portion of the river and the areas below Vista.

The Derby Dam diverts Truckee River water from its natural course which goes to Pyramid Lake. Instead water flows into the Truckee Canal to the Carson River.

The Derby Dam diverts Truckee River water away from its natural course which flows to Pyramid Lake. The dam diverts a significant amount of the Truckee River into the Truckee Canal to Lahontan Reservoir on the Carson River.

Are we going to have a healthy and vibrant river system including the Truckee River’s unique inland sea – Pyramid Lake?  Stay tuned and we’ll be discussing the challenges facing the entire Truckee River system in the coming weeks.

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About Dennis Ghiglieri

My concern for the Truckee River grew over the years. It started with picking up trash and supporting better water quality. I helped create the "living river"plan with other citizens on the Community Flood Coalition; a plan to reduce flood impacts to infrastructure through river restoration and protection of the floodplain. I understand how critical the Truckee River is to the environment – and economy – of our entire region. I'm hoping that through these pages we can all understand our connection to the Truckee River and why we need to protect it.

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