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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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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