More than 27 years in the making, the Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA) now guides use of the river that winds nearly 120 miles from the mountains of Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake and is the primary water source for Reno and Sparks. The long-pursued plan brings the Truckee River’s management into modern times, protects the area from protracted droughts and offers a promising future for the region as a whole.
After years of discussion and debate, the states of Nevada and California, the United States Government, Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe signed the Truckee River Operating Agreement on September 6, 2008. TROA implementation began in December of 2015.
The agreement brings an end to historic uncertainty between Nevada and California over distribution of the river’s water, allocating 90 percent to Nevada. Beyond enhanced drought storage for the Truckee Meadows community, it modifies the operation of federal and selected non-federal reservoirs in the river system to protect and improve water quality and enhances conditions for the endangered Pyramid Lake cui-ui and the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout. By retaining more water in upstream reservoirs, TROA also expands the range of recreational opportunities, including boating and fishing.
TROA replaces a rigid and inflexible water management system for the Truckee, dictated by decades-old court decrees that were designed to serve farmers, small hydroelectric plants and now defunct paper mills at a time when the Truckee Meadows has become more urbanized. It provides more efficient use of available reservoir storage and times the releases of water to meet modern-day demands including the municipal needs of Reno-Sparks.
TROA is good news for all northern Nevadans, for many reasons…
Provides drought year water storage for the Truckee Meadows
- A minimum of 39,500 acre feet of water would be stored in Stampede and other reservoirs that would ensure drought supplies for the Truckee Meadows based on population projections for the next 30 years. See our study on the five-year effect of TROA during a worse-than-worse-case drought.
Protects our existing water supply
- The agreement resolves the interstate allocation of water and ensures that Nevada will receive 90 percent of the water on the Truckee River.
- The agreement provides funding for the purchase of water rights for the endangered Stillwater Wildlife Refuge.
An end to years of litigation
- The agreement ends many cases in over 80 years of costly water litigation and dispose of most lawsuits pending on the Truckee River issues.
Provides enhanced Truckee River flows for endangered and threatened fish species
- An aggressive recovery program for the Cui-ui fish and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is an important part of the agreement.
Provides protection for the Truckee River water rights holders
- The water rights of those who are not signatories to the Negotiated Settlement will be protected. State law gives only the state engineer the authority to decide on water rights issues.
Many Parties Support the Agreement Including:
- State of California
- State of Nevada
- Reno City Council
- Sparks City Council
- Washoe County Regional Water Planning Commission
- Nevada Department of Wildlife Environmental Defense Fund
- Friends of Pyramid Lake