Five years of drought have left their mark on the Sierra reservoirs that hold our water supply....and that's about to make a big difference in the Truckee River.
But in a few days it won't.Here it is. Still September. Only the first day of fall and the Truckee is about to turn into a trickle.
A trip upstream shows you the trouble ahead. The Truckee begins here at Tahoe City....where Lake Tahoe flows into the river. That flow stopped this past weekend....as Tahoe fell below it's natural rim. The lakeshore is now a couple hundred yards....from the river. Buoys that marked the channel here now sit in high grass. The gates at the dam...for the moment...dry and useless. On the other side, the pool is still. No water coming in our out.The big trout that lurk under Fanny Bridge have no where else to go. Just downstream the effect is telling.
This is what happens to the Upper Truckee when Tahoe falls below its rim. It''s also a pretty good preview of what's about to happen to the Lower Truckee.
The flow in the Lower Truckee is being maintained by the release of water from Boca Reservoir. But after tomorrow this all stops.
Garry Stone is the man charged with managing the Truckee and maintaining a mandated streamflow, but now he's out of options. There is still some water left in Boca Reservoir and some will still flow into the Truckee, but it won't be much and it's earmarked for your faucet, not the river.
And it's the first time the Truckee Meadows Water Authority has had to use it's drought reserve. That water won't make it past the water treatment plants. Further downstream, the Truckee will look very different very soon.....
None of this is unheard of or unanticipated. What is unusual is for all of it to be happening this early.
Stone Says, " If we don't get a big year next year. It will fall below the rim even sooner and that will just continue to happen until we can get back up as we were fortunate enough to do in the mid-90's. We just keep falling behind."