Director, Natural Resources Planning & Management
At TMWA we predictably get a lot of questions regarding the ongoing drought. And though it’s impossible for even the most expert among us to speak with absolute certainty about future weather patterns and water supply, we have come to a point in the year where we have a pretty good idea what the remainder of 2014 will look like. With this information in hand, we have developed the “Frequently Asked Questions” below. Reviewing these will give you our most up-to-date information on water supply and hopefully answer questions you may have about our current water situation.
Frequently Asked Questions on TMWA’s Current Water Situation
Overview: This year’s snowpack is looking like it will be well below average again. Despite this third consecutive dry year, TMWA will continue to meet the water needs of our customers throughout the summer and for the rest of the year.
We are fortunate to have a robust supply of upstream reservoirs and underground reserves available for use during dry-weather cycles. TMWA’s staff continually monitors conditions and plans for a nine-year, dry-weather cycle, which is one year longer than the worst drought on record. Here’s more information on our water resources.
We are forecasting that we will not have to draw on our upstream reserves. For this spring and summer—and always—TMWA encourages our community to use water responsibly.
What will happen to Truckee River flows?
The required minimum river flow of 500cfs (cubic feet per second) beginning April 1 is forecasted to be maintained through Labor Day, meaning that we don’t anticipate needing to use TMWA’s upstream reserves for water supply purposes.
The amount of water that TMWA draws from the Truckee River is probably a lot less than you would think. Typically, TMWA meets more than 85 percent of our annual customer demand using the Truckee River. Yet, in the aggregate, TMWA is the smallest major user on the river system, only diverting 8% during a drought, and 3% in an average year of annual supply available from the Truckee River.
Will there be any changes to conservation efforts this summer?
Our customers have always been diligent about conservation. Based on current forecasts, no changes to conservation efforts are necessary over the summer. TMWA will continue its three-day watering schedules. For details, visit this page. TMWA is also offering free workshops to help you understand your landscape’s water needs, including irrigation system start up, efficient landscape design, tree care and sprinkler and drip system maintenance. Visit here for more information.
How is the Truckee Meadows prepared for a drought?
Drought is a natural occurrence in the high desert and this community is well prepared. We are fortunate to have a robust supply system of upstream reservoirs and underground reserves in more than 30 wells. Groundwater supplies are also enhanced and protected each winter when TMWA recharges the aquifer by injecting approximately five million gallons of treated water per day into the groundwater aquifer for future drought-year use.
TMWA plans for dry years. Our staff continually monitors weather and snowpack conditions and plans for a nine-year dry weather cycle, which is one year longer than the worst drought on record. For a deeper look at TMWA’s resource planning, our “Water Resource Plan” can be downloaded here. Portions of the plan, which was adopted by the TMWA Board of Directors in 2009, are incorporated into the Regional Water Management Plan which is maintained by the Western Regional Water Commission.
In addition, this is a community that has always focused on water conservation, not only in dry years, but in plentiful years. The average household is using 15 percent less water than 10 years ago. Our citizens have always valued our precious water resources and conservation. Here’s more information on our water resources.
How will the drought affect me?
Nothing additional will be asked of TMWA customers, except to continue to be extra diligent in using water—both indoors and outside. During this dry year, we thank all of our customers for using water responsibly and encourage everyone to keep up the good work. As always, Assigned-Day Watering will be in effect. If the last number of your home or business address is even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8), please water on Tuesday, Thursdays or Saturdays. If the last number of your home or business address is odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9), water only on Sundays, Wednesdays or Fridays. Please don’t water on Mondays, as it is a day of rest for the water system, giving it a chance to recharge. And please, no watering during the heat of the day between noon and 6 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Other conservation measures to keep in mind: water deeper and less often; water at cooler times of day to avoid high temperatures; never water when it is windy; and reduce watering this fall to help lawns and plants go dormant.
How will the conservation rules be enforced?
We are serious about encouraging responsible water use and preventing waste. If you see water being wasted, please let us know and call the conservation department at 834-8005, or use this form here. Those customers who waste water will be contacted. We will also have staff patrolling during the summer who will be on the lookout for water waste, as we have done for many years.