Truckee River Operating Agreement Now in Effect

Published: Jan. 5, 2016 at 6:48 PM PST
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After decades of fighting over the correct way to manage the water in the Truckee River, there is finally an agreement. Water officials are celebrating the implementation of the Truckee River operating agreement. It's said to provide more flexibility for water managers and further allow them to conserve.

Until now the river's flow has been governed by a series of very strict decrees that don't allow for much leeway, but with the implementation of TROA, the governance of the river will be based on what is best for all parties as well as seasonal weather conditions.

"From a drought perspective, this agreement is truly a game changer," said Leo Drozdoof, Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Water officials are applauding 27 years of negotiations that led to the formation of TROA.

"It is a great day for northern Nevada, it really is," said Sparks Mayor Geno Martini, Chairman of the TMWA board.

The agreement was hatched between California, Nevada, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, and the Truckee Meadows Water Authority.

"It provides a lot more flexibility to the parties to be able to exercise their water rights," said Chad Blanchard, Federal Water Master.

Blanchard says TROA allows water right holders like TMWA to more easily store water instead of letting it flow downstream.

"A water right that maybe was not being used before can now be exercised and credit stored up stream to be used later for a drought reserve," said Blanchard.

Prior to TROA, certain flows were required to be met every day no matter if it is during drought or high water year. Those requirements have been in place since the 40's when hydro-power plants and paper mills lined the river. With those water users gone, flows don't need to be as high.

"Hydro-electric power is not as important as it used to be; there are no paper mills... so that rigid release of water from reservoirs to meet a certain high flow at the state line is now not there anymore. Now we can hold water back in upstream reservoirs when we don't really need it, and release it when we do really need it," said Mark Foree, General Manager of TMWA.

"This agreement calls for much better use of water storage which is a key to ready this community in times of extended drought," said Drozdoof.

The Truckee River Operating Agreement was officially put into use December 1, 2015. Since then TMWA has saved 2,700 acre feet of water that before would have just gone downstream.

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