TMWA Senior Hydrologist
Our region is still in the midst of a severe drought and upstream reservoir storage in the Truckee River watershed is extremely low. The elevation of Lake Tahoe continues to drop and is now just two inches above its natural rim. Consequently, very little water is making its way into the Truckee River, and flow at the California-Nevada state line is just a fraction of what it normally is this time of the year—approximately 87 cubic feet per second this morning.
TMWA continues to make supplemental releases of water from our drought storage in Donner Lake in order to meet the demands of our water customers. These reservoir releases will continue through the end of this month and well into October. To date, we have released about 4,000 acre feet, or roughly 15%, of our upstream drought reserves in order to keep our surface water treatment plants on-line. In addition to making releases from upstream drought reserves, TMWA has been running the majority of our production wells over the last month. This offsets the amount of surface water TMWA would otherwise need to release from upstream reserves. The more water we keep stored upstream in reserve the better, just in case we experience another dry winter.
Customer demand averaged 92.8 million gallons a day last week. Year-to-date consumption is now 98.6% of 2013. Total customer demand is down a total of 6% over the first eight weeks of our voluntary conservation campaign (compared to the same eight weeks in 2013). Estimated “outdoor water usage” over the same period is down roughly 8.5% over the same period. This is less than the 10% reduction in outdoor watering we were hoping for, so we are asking customers to be especially vigilant in their conservation efforts during the tail end of the warm season. Again, every gallon of water customers conserve now by paying extra attention to their outdoor watering practices can be saved upstream in reserve for next summer.