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Recent storm helped, but Truckee reservoirs remain low

Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 6:11 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - This winter started dry following a so-so 2020 water year, leaving a lot of room in upstream reservoirs.

Boca--a source of our municipal water supply for instance is just 17 percent of capacity at the moment. Tahoe--the other main source of the water we all use is at 44 percent of the available storage.

Other upstream reservoirs with designated uses including the support of endangered fish species at Pyramid Lake are in the same range.

Typically at this time of year levels are lower, sometimes drawn down on purpose to leave room for flood control. That’s not a problem for the moment, but in most years after a big storm like last week’s you’d see higher levels.

“This year most of it has fallen as snow so it hasn’t provided a lot of extra runoff and we haven’t been able to store much water compared with normal winters,” says Federal Watermaster Chad Blanchard, who manages the Truckee River system.

So, there’s room for improvement.

The water we use in the Truckee Meadows comes first from natural runoff into the river. Reservoirs like Boca are the reserve ready to supplement and maintain that flow. For that reason, those who manage our water supply would like to see more water up here and waiting on the slopes.

Fortunately, Blanchard says, there’s still time.

“December was a bust. January ended up about 80 percent of average, so considering how we started it ended up OK. So we’ll have to wait and see what February brings. We’ve had Miracle Marches in the past so that’s always a possibility.

But he’d rather not pray for a Miracle March.

“I’d rather not have to, but we’ll take it if it comes.”

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