Monthly Archives: July 2017

Truckee flows cut while Tahoe nearing maximum storage behind dam

The latest flows from Tahoe (as of 7/13/17) are a mere trickle compared to the flows of the previous 5 months. Flows over the past 4 days from the Tahoe Dam have dropped each day from 300 CFS on July 10th, 200 CFS on July 11, 170 CFS on July 13, and now 70 CFS on July 14. Lake Tahoe’s water surface elevation has not risen over the past week and stands currently 1.3 inches below its legal maximum of 6,229.1 feet. Does the cut in releases into the Truckee mean the Water Master must store that last 1.3 inches of runoff behind the Tahoe Dam?

The reservoirs on the Truckee River are all now essentially full. While there is still snow in the higher elevations, the low elevation snow pack is now gone reducing the amount of runoff in creeks and streams flowing into the Truckee and Tahoe. Current storage stands as follows:

Reservoir on Truckee River

Storage July 14, 2017 acre-feet

Capacity acre-feet

Percent Full

Lake Tahoe (Water Surface Elevation in feet AMSL)




Donner Lake




Independence Lake (owned by Truckee Meadows Water Authority)




Prosser Reservoir




Stampede Reservoir




Boca Reservoir




Note: Martis Reservoir on Martis Creek, a tributary to the Truckee River, is used for flood control and currently holds 890 acre-feet due to leakage

Reservoir on Carson River Storage July 14, 2017 Acre-feet Capacity Acre-feet Percent Full

Lahontan Reservoir




Lahontan Reservoir stores water diverted from the Truckee River by the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District via the Truckee Canal and the Carson River for the Newlands Project. Since mid-January diversions have been limited due to high flows on the Carson River with current diversions going to irrigation in the Fernley area and the Fallon “bench” lands portion of the Project but not to Lahontan Reservoir.

Pyramid Lake and Truckee River: home for wildlife

The lower Truckee River on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation is home to many species of wildlife. In the mountains both west and east of Pyramid Lake live Bighorn sheep and mule deer, as well as thousands of migrating and nesting birds.

Caspian Tern at the lower Truckee River at Pyramid Lake

Caspian Tern at the lower Truckee River at Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake and the lower Truckee River are the only places in the world where you can find Cui-ui fish and the largest cutthroat trout – the Pyramid Lake strain. Anaho Island, a National Wildlife Refuge fully contained within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation, is home to an American white pelican nesting colony along with nesting California gulls, double crested cormorants, snowy egrets, and others.

Pyramid Lake itself is also a home for birds nesting and raising their young. This year’s substantial flows on the Truckee River have created additional places for birds to nest. Western grebes and Clark’s grebes have built floating nests on shallow areas recently covered by Pyramid’s rising water level.  The nests require considerable attention of the nesting pairs to prevent the nests from being swamped by waves or raided by over-flying common ravens. The grebes make repeated trips to pick up floating vegetation and sticks to continually improve the nest and allow the eggs to hatch. Once hatched, the young birds can immediately take to a parents back or swim on their own. Bank swallows nest in holes in a steep slope such as those created by high flows along a river bank. High flow conditions this year opened up many new places for bank swallows along the Truckee River.