TMWA delivers high-quality drinking water to approximately 450,000 customers in extremely hilly and varied terrain within a large 171 square-mile service area. Because of the differences in elevation in the Truckee Meadows, TMWA’s has one of the most complex large municipal water systems in the western U.S.
From the Mt. Rose foothills to the North Valleys, and from Verdi to east of Sparks, there are a series of high and low points that make our water distribution system operationally complex. The elevation differences are stark. For example, the Mt. Rose 3 tank sits at 6,676 feet—which is higher than Lake Tahoe by 415 feet; while our low elevation point in Sparks is at 3,983 feet. That’s a 2,693-foot difference.
Operationally, this topography requires numerous pressure regulator stations (380), booster pump stations (118), water tanks (95) and five treatment plants to meet peak customer water demand and fire-flow requirements. The equipment and facilities form an operating system designed to deliver high-quality water at reliable pressures under a variety of conditions and elevations. This results in more pressure zones (280) than typical utilities of TMWA’s size.
In addition, TMWA relies on 86 groundwater wells throughout the system to meet peak summer water demands and provide resiliency during droughts. There are also 2,802 miles of pressurized main lines beneath our streets delivering water to our customers 24/7.
Despite the complicated nature of our system, TMWA is very efficient compared to other utilities. According to the American Water Works Association’s national benchmark rankings on operational efficiencies, TMWA ranks in the top 25 percent nationwide.