Truckee River Operating Agreement in effect today!

The “Notice of Implementation of Truckee River Operating Agreement” was filed in US District Court in Nevada today – December 1, 2015 – declaring that “all of the conditions set forth (in the agreement) have been satisfied…”. The 6 parties to TROA are the US Department of Interior, US Department of Justice, States of California and Nevada, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, and Truckee Meadows Water Authority. The signed document is here.

Rob Scanland with Great Basin Land and Water, whose organization helped acquire water rights for the Truckee River for water quality and in-stream flows, saw the implementation as an early Christmas present saying, “[t]he water management of the Truckee River has finally transitioned into the 21st century.”

The agreement culminates a two and a half decade process between the entities to negotiate how to provide drought storage on the Truckee River, provide for spawning flows for endangered and threatened fish species, divide the water between California and Nevada, settle lawsuits by various parties, fulfill the Federal Government’s trust obligation to indigenous tribes, and numerous other technical and procedural issues related to river flows at Floriston as well as when and how to move stored water into the river. The Federal Water Master, Chad Blanchard, is responsible to carry out TROA now day-to-day. The TROA was made possible by a 1990 law, Public Law 101-618: The ‘Truckee-Carson-Pyramid Lake Water Rights Settlement Act’, sponsored by Senator Harry Reid that established the detailed framework for the negotiations. (See below for the outlined purposes of the law that has now settled issues on the Truckee River between the 6 signatories.)  You can read the TROA on the website maintained by the Water Master for the Truckee River here ( then click on “documents”).

In "normal" times this spot in Lake Tahoe would be under 3-6 feet of water and water would flow into the Truckee River. Once below its rim, no water can flow into the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe is well below its rim in this recent photograph and no water can enter the Truckee River. In “normal” times this spot in Lake Tahoe would be under 3-6 feet of water and Lake Tahoe water would flow into the Truckee River.


Public Law 101-618 (extract)



    This title may be cited as the ‘Truckee-Carson-Pyramid Lake Water Rights Settlement Act’.


    The purposes of this title shall be to–
    (a) provide for the equitable apportionment of the waters of the Truckee River, Carson River, and Lake Tahoe between the State of California and the State of Nevada;
    (b) authorize modifications to the purposes and operation of certain Federal Reclamation project facilities to provide benefits to fish and wildlife, municipal, industrial, and irrigation users, and recreation;
    (c) authorize acquisition of water rights for fish and wildlife;
    (d) encourage settlement of litigation and claims;
    (e) fulfill Federal trust obligations toward Indian tribes;
    (f) fulfill the goals of the Endangered Species Act by promoting the enhancement and recovery of the Pyramid Lake fishery; and
    (g) protect significant wetlands from further degradation and enhance the habitat of many species of wildlife which depend on those wetlands, and for other purposes.
Pyramid Lake

Pyramid Lake located in Washoe County just 30 minutes from Reno is one of the last remaining desert terminal lakes in the world and home to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. The lake is famous for its Lahontan Cutthroat Trout that grow to 20 or more pounds and the Cui ui fish found only in Pyramid Lake and spawn in the lower Truckee River. Diversions from the Truckee River to the “Newlands Project” have damaged Pyramid Lake and its fishery.


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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.