This winter brought one of the biggest snowpack years on record, and the water supply outlook for our region is excellent! Official April 1st snowpack measurements for the Lake Tahoe Basin came in at 242% of normal. With the big spring runoff, it is expected that all upstream reservoirs on the Truckee River system will fill this year.
Lake Tahoe, with its massive 744,600-acre foot storage capacity, should come very close to filling. (The top 6.1 ft. of storage above the lake’s rim is used to provide river flows and drought reserves). This is a remarkable rebound for the lake which, in early December, was almost six inches below its natural rim. As of mid-April, Tahoe’s elevation had already increased by almost three feet, and is projected to rise about three additional feet by August.
There will be a tremendous amount of carry-over storage in the upstream reservoirs this fall going into next winter. That’s great news as Truckee River flows can be maintained for at least the next two or three years.
A big winter like this, where all the reservoirs are refilled in the springtime, basically resets the entire system. It highlights the fact that, under the right circumstances, the Truckee River can recover very quickly—sometimes in just one season. Our community is very fortunate to have such a unique water system and series of reservoirs available to help secure the future of our water supply.